Creative and novel solutions are the lifeblood of innovation.

When Creative Thinking Fails

We love to embrace the creative. Novel solutions become game-changers that reshape industry. But there are some factors that can lead to the “failure” of a creative solutions. Here, we’ll explore a short list of reasons these creative solutions fail and suggest a few considerations.

Why the creative fails.

  1. We aren’t ready for it. There are occasions when a creative idea is proposed and it is absolutely viable. It may change the landscape. It may even be revolutionary. But it still may be soundly rejected. Steve Sasson, an engineer at Kodak, created the digital camera in 1975. It would be 20 years before Kodak released their first digital camera to the market. There is much more to this tragic story, but we will share that later. Sometimes the key stakeholders are looking for something novel and get steeped in tradition.
  2. It is creative, but still inferior. Sometimes there are novel solutions that are simply inferior. They will often introduce unnecessary complexity or produce a lack-luster result. Rube Goldberg popularized unnecessary complexity in his cartoons that depicted a series of complex steps to achieve a relatively simple task. A simple search for Rube Goldberg machines will leave you entertained for hours. Sometimes, our creativity will leave us with a complex, undesired solution. Be intentionally simplistic in your creativity. Ask, “Is this the best way to approach this task or objective?” and answer yourself honestly.
  3. You are the only one who “gets it.” Sometimes a creative solution fails because no one else understands the approach. Often, when this is the case, it becomes about the messaging. Spending some time in crafting the right message is very important. If you still fail in crafting the right message, make sure you are presenting to the right audience.
  4. It solves a problem that doesn’t exist. Yes, you have a creative solution. But it is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, or perhaps no one is concerned with. Before endeavoring on a creative journey to save the world, make sure the world actually needs to be saved. It’s entirely appropriate to come to a shared understanding with the right stakeholders regarding the problem before producing your creative solution. Having a good understanding ahead of time is critical.
  5. The creative solution crosses a protected boundary. There are some boundaries that must be respected. Whether these are legislative, regulatory, ethical, or social boundaries, you need to be aware of them and carefully avoid crossing them. When you are working on your creative solution, it’s a good idea to list out your constraints to stay within those boundaries.

Enhancing your creative thinking prowess

Now that we’ve seen a few pitfalls, how can you enhance your creative thinking prowess? I like to ask how much time and effort is spent in an organization considering the novel and creative approaches that we claim to embrace. Usually, there is no concerted effort.

A good root-cause analysis program depends heavily aspects of creative thinking. In fact, our courses train different modes of thought and encourage our students to leverage these. We also recommend some simply steps to build more creative thinking:

  1. Set aside time for creative thinking.
  2. Have separate individual and collaborative sessions.
  3. Practice creative thinking (here’s an easy way)
  4. Leverage our root-cause analysis toolkit (available through our courses)
  5. Challenge yourself to provide a more novel solution.

There are many other ways to enhance your creative-thinking prowess. We’d love to discuss this with you. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about how creative solutions can change your organization.

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