Solving Problems Using Critical Thinking and Creativity

  • 1 day(s) Duration
  • MDI1477Course Code
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Course description

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.

Who should attend

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

What you will achieve

  • 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: Listen to the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast podcast "Improve Your Critical Thinking at Work" and be prepared to discuss it in class.
Course Outline
Opening Activities
Module 1: Problem Diagnosis and Definition
  • Overcoming a Bias for Action
    • Checking Your Mindset
    • Tolerating Ambiguity and Uncertainty
  • Defining the Right Problem
  • Problem Solving Framework
  • Root Cause Analysis
    • The 5 Whys Technique
    • Ishikawa (Fishbone) Diagram
Module 2: Creative Thinking — Generating Alternatives
  • What Clouds Our Thinking?
  • Walking Down the Ladder of Inference
    • Brainstorming
    • Exploring de Bono's Six Thinking Hats®
  • Design Thinking: Empathy and Perspective Taking
  • Pixar's Brain Trust and Catalytic Questions
Module 3: Critical Thinking — Evaluating Alternatives
  • Breaking Through Functional Fixedness
  • Divergent and Convergent Thinking
  • Employing Intellectual Standards
    • The Gateway Standard of Clarity
    • Accuracy and Precision
    • Logic and Relevance
  • The Power of Inquiry: Asking "A More Beautiful Question"
  • Exploring Mental Models
  • Synthesizing What You've Learned
  • Creating Your Action Plan
Post-Course Work
  • Watch: Watch TED Talk "Got a Wicked Problem? First Tell Me How You Make Toast" (Tom Wujec)