Practice Area

Management and Leadership

Solving Problems Using Critical Thinking and Creativity

  • Traditional Classroom: 1-day
  • Virtual Instructor-led: Two 3-3.5 hour sessions; Three 2-hour sessions

The ability to think both creatively and critically is an invaluable skill set at the heart of effective problem solving. While at first glance creating and critiquing may seem like opposites, they are in fact deeply connected... and part of an ongoing generative cycle. To solve challenging problems, we need to explore them holistically — to unleash our imaginations while also applying structure and discipline to our thought processes.

In this highly interactive course, participants will examine the dynamic interplay between critical and creative thinking. They will actively experiment with various problem-solving approaches and techniques for generating alternative solutions. In pairs and small groups they will investigate their own mental models and biases, testing ideas against a selection of critical thinking standards. At the end of the workshop, they will synthesize what they have learned and create their personal action plan.

Target Audience

This course is designed for:

  • Anyone who wants to refine their critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills and abilities.
  • Anyone who wishes to grow their ability to innovate, solve problems based on critical thinking, and generate creative solutions and new ideas.

Learning Objectives

  • Articulate the intimate connection between critical thinking and creative thinking.
  • Recognize the importance of defining the right problem.
  • Apply a variety of problem-solving approaches to real-life challenges.
  • Leverage different techniques to generate divergent and convergent thinking.
  • Employ selected intellectual standards to improve critical thinking capabilities.
  • Integrate creative and critical thinking to create a personal action plan specific to problem solving.

Pre-Course Work

  • Listen to the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast podcast “Improve Your Critical Thinking at Work” and be prepared to discuss it in class.

Course Outline

Foundation Concepts
  • Course Goal and Learning Objectives
  • Opening Activities
    • Kick-off Question
    • Large Group Spectrogram
  • Key Definitions
  • Framework for Problem Solving
  • Class Activity: Introductions by the Numbers
What Gets in the Way of Us Thinking Critically?
  • Internal Obstacles to Thinking Critically
  • Daniel Kahneman’s Two Thinking Modes
  • Common Cognitive Biases
  • Class Activity: Cognitive Bias Scenarios
  • Interruption Science and Switch-Tasking
  • Tips for Countering Internal Obstacles
Problem Solving and Diagnosis
  • Einstein on Problem Solving
  • Class Activity: Solving the Wrong Problem
  • Defining the Right Problem
  • Problem Solving Framework
  • Root Cause Analysis
    • The 5 Whys Technique
    • Ishikawa (Fishbone) Diagram
  • Breakout Group Activity: Apply Root Cause Analysis to a Real-Life Problem
Creative Thinking — Generating Alternatives
  • Obstacles to Problem Solving
  • Overcoming Functional Fixedness
  • Class Activity: Alternative Uses
  • Divergent and Convergent Thinking
  • Breakout Group Activity: “Lost at Sea”
  • The “Brain Swarming” Technique
  • Class Activity: Brain Swarming Problem — “The Stuck Truck”
  • Asking Different Questions
  • Breakout Group Activity: A Better Question
Critical Thinking — Evaluating Alternatives
  • What Clouds Our Thinking?
  • Walking Down the Ladder of Inference
  • Employing Intellectual Standards
    • The Gateway Standard of Clarity
    • Accuracy and Precision
    • Logic and Relevance
  • Exploring de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats®
  • Pairwise Comparison Technique
  • Kepner-Tregoe Method: KT Decision Model
  • Breakout Group Activity: Leverage a Decision Making Model in a Real-World Scenario
  • Review of Key Tools and Techniques
Group Critical and Creative Thinking Challenge
  • Verbal Intelligence Problems
  • Logical Intelligence Problems
  • Pattern Recognition Problems
  • Lateral Thinking Problems
  • Visual/Spatial Intelligence Problems
  • Class Activity: Workplace Application Scenarios
  • Course Summary and Personal Action Plan
Post-Course Work
  • Watch: Watch TED Talk “Got a Wicked Problem? First Tell Me How You Make Toast” (Tom Wujec)

MDV1477 Course Code

For more information on this topic, as well as how Corporate Education Group can help power your organization’s performance, contact us via email or call 1.800.288.7246 (US only) or +1.978.649.8200. You can also use our Information Request Form!

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