Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving Critical thinking and creative problem solving working together can enhance a person’s creative skills. However, if there is not a correct balance between the two, a person may not find the correct resolution. To find the right balance between critical thinking and creative problem solving, one must understand the similarities and differences between the two. This paper will attempt to show those ideas. Critical Thinking
According to Shah (2010) and the American Heritage Dictionary, critical thinking is defined as “The mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion” (Para. 1). To help understand critical thinking, I will break the definition into smaller pieces. Conceptualizing is the forming of an idea. Applying and analyzing takes the idea or concept and applies it to the situation, and then the idea is studied or examined. After these first few stages are complete, the last two can take place.
Synthesize is combining analogies to form a new product. Evaluation is the stage of appraising the product or information found to determine whether there has been success or failure in reaching a solution. Creative Problem Solving Many experts have their own unique ideas about creative problem solving. I choose to discuss the Wallas’ model. Wallas believed that most people follow four phases of problem solving: 1) preparing, 2) incubating, 3) illuminating, and 4) verifying. A person will begin to research and gather information about the problem to be solved in the preparation stage.
Once the preparation is complete, stage two (the incubation stage) will occur. During this stage, the information is processed in the mind unconsciously. If successful at this stage, then illumination can take place. The illumination stage involves the emergence of a new solution or relationship. The last phase of Wallas’ model is verification or testing the solution to determine if it fits the problem (Dacey & Lennon, 1998). Similarities and Differences Prior to completing this paper, I thought that critical thinking and creative problem solving were very different.
However, I find that they are very much alike. Critical thinking and creative problem solving follow very similar steps to reach a solution. Conceptualizing and preparing are the beginning phases at which time one realizes there is a problem. Stage two is the applying and analyzing or incubation stage. After success has been reached at this stage, the process proceeds to the synthesizing or illumination stage. This could also be considered the Aha stage where an idea comes to light. The last stage is the evaluation or verification to determine the success of the solution.
One difference that should be discussed is that the creative process appears to be more open and looks for more than one resolution to a problem. An example of this is the story at the end of chapter nine. The question presented was “Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of barometer” (Dacey & Lennon, 1998, p. 185). The professor expected an answer using physics logic, but the student was creative and thought outside the box. By doing this, there were many answers to the question. The critical thinking process is rigid and expects to find only one resolution.
My Experiences One experience that comes to mind involving creative problem solving came in my tenure as a customer service representative. I received a telephone call very late in the day from a customer needing a part shipped the same day. Knowing this was an unusual request, I found myself in the preparation stage. I began gathering information such as do we have the part in stock, how much time do I have to enter the order, let the warehouse know the order is in the system so the part can be pulled from inventory and sent to shipping to make the shipment.
I did not have time to let the information sink in unconsciously because of the time constraint. I skipped over this phase and moved right into the illumination stage. I was hitting some roadblocks getting people to cooperate and make the shipment happen. Then the light bulb went off. If I supply a reward, I will get what I want and make the customer happen. I offered to buy pizza the next day if the team came together and was successful. Everyone stepped in and the shipment made the truck and was delivered to the customer the next day. The verification as the telephone call from the customer with confirmation of delivery. I had the opportunity to work with a gentleman on a project to help identify duplicate purchase orders received from the customer. All information was shared electronically. This experience reminds me of the critical thinking process. The concept was the issue of duplicating orders and over shipping parts to the customer. I gathered information about how many possible duplicate purchase orders occur, the cost of shipping material to the customer, and the cost of returning the shipment (due to our error).
I shared it with the programmer explaining why it was necessary to solve the problem. Together we applied and analyzed the information to determine what to do next. In the synthesizing stage, we assembled a plan to write a software program that would identify a duplicate purchase order, quarantine it and create a message stating that purchase order XYZ is a possible duplicate. At the point that the message was received, one person was responsible for either releasing the purchase order (if it was not a duplicate) or canceling it.
The resolution was evaluated by comparing the amount of returned or refused after the program was installed to those prior to the installation. Conclusion Since I have had the opportunity to examine critical thinking and creative problem solving in depth, I see many similarities and only a few differences. I realize that a person may apply both processes to reach a resolution. The importance is to find the right balance so that critical thinking supports the creative problem solving and vice versa. Failure to find this balance may result in no resolution to the problem.
I do not believe that people are aware that they are critically thinking or creatively solving a problem. This seems to be something that takes place when a situation presents itself. References Dacey, J. , & Lennon, K. (1998). Understanding creativity: The interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Shah, C. G. (2010). Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Matters to Emerging Professionals An ASM Emerging Professional’s Perspective. Advanced Materials ; Processes, 168 (5), 66-66. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.