Leading modules


Module 5 β€œCan I solve problems?” – Creative problem solving

Unit 1 – What is Creative Problem Solving?
What skills are needed?

When employers talk about problem-solving skills, they are often referring to the ability to handle difficult or unexpected situations in the workplace as well as complex business challenges. Organizations rely on people who can assess both kinds of situations and calmly identify solutions. Problem-solving skills are traits that enable you to do that. While problem-solving skills are valued by employers, they are also highly useful in other areas of life like relationship building and day-to-day decision making.

Problem-solving skills help you determine the source of a problem and find an effective solution. Although problem-solving is often identified as its own separate skill, there are other related skills that contribute to this ability:

Analytical/critical thinking:

Is the ability to recognize problems, to critically analyse them and evaluate findings. A key element to analytical thinking is the ability to quickly identify cause and effect relationships. This means understanding what might happen during the problem-solving process, and examining how new ideas relate to the original topic.

Creativity/creative thinking:

Problems are usually solved either intuitively or systematically. Intuition is used when no new knowledge is needed, which means that you know enough to be able to make a quick decision and solve the problem, or you use common sense or experience to solve the problem. More complex problems or problems that you have not experienced before will likely requite a more systematic and logical approach to solve, and for these you will need to use creative thinking.

Emotional intelligence:

It is worth considering the impact that a problem and/or its solution has on you and other people. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise the emotions of yourself and others, which will help you to guide you to an appropriate solution.

Research skills:

Defining and solving problems other requires doing some research. This can be a simple Google search or a more rigorous research project. Research skills are necessary for the first stage of the CPS process, in order to clarify the problem and gather data.

Risk management:

Solving a problem involves a certain amount of risk. This risk needs to be weighed up against not solving the problem. Risk management is an analytical/critical skill; it is the ability to calculate the potential effects when implementing a possible solution.

Decision making:

It is the ability to think of alternatives when no clear solution is apparent. Problem-solving and Decision making are closely related skills. Making a decision is an important part of the problem-solving process as you will often be faced with various options and alternatives.


Once you decided which is the best solution, you need to implement it, which requires planning skills. It is the ability to anticipate obstacles when implementing the solution or idea, to determine the time it will take to implement it, etc.