P.O. BOX 1685, CAPITOLA, CA 095010-1685
TEL: (610) 793-3520

Creative Problem Solving Workshops

Most solutions to business problems are rather routine and do not give any particular competitive advantage. On the other hand, unique, creative solutions can give strong competitive advantage. Unfortunately , the corporate environment tends to quench the creative process. Creative ideas often have "outlandish" elements. To propose them within a typical corporate structure can mean taking career chances.

The Creative Problem Solving Workshop is a means of reducing this risk. The goal of these sessions are to establish an environment which will foster creative activities. In addition, the creative problem solving environment tends to help facilitate communications among the participants. This is often a major goal of the sessions. Custom Decision Support, Inc. has arranged and conducted a large number of these sessions. We have used this procedure to identify:

Nurture Embryonic Projects

These workshops also enable the development of embryonic concepts in a supportive environment. Often concepts that are identified in the normal work-a-day critical environment die prematurely. Few concepts are so robust when first put forth that they can bear immediate critical review. Most concepts develop strength as they are modified to overcome apparent weaknesses. The Creative Problem Solving Workshop provides sufficient protection for these embryonic ideas to allow for their evolutionary development.

Workshop Procedures

A workshop consists of a series of semi-structured meetings in which the "facilitator", under the guidance of the "client", leads the session in a series of idea-expanding and idea-focusing phases with closure on possible solutions to the problem. Speculative thought among the participants is encouraged. All group output is recorded on chart pads. These pages are kept visible during the session, and are later transcribed, becoming the notes of the session.

Two persons function in what might normally be the chairman's job. One is the client role (the person who directs the content of the workshop) and the other is the facilitator role (the individual who attends to how things are accomplished in the meeting). The facilitator must be trained in the process and often comes from outside the organization. The client, however, must be the key person responsible for solving the problem. We have found that a strong, well-informed client is essential for a successful workshop.

The length of the workshop depends on the nature of the problem, the desired number of possible solutions, and the skill of the participants. We have run workshops from one-half day to two days in length with between eight and 24 participants. Workshops appear to be improved when held at off-site locations. This permits concentration on the problem and establishes an atmosphere of "not business as usual".