A Taxonomy and Process for Structured Innovation, Creative Problem Solving and Opportunity Creating

Moran, Stephen William (2013). A Taxonomy and Process for Structured Innovation, Creative Problem Solving and Opportunity Creating. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f07a


Myriad problem-solving techniques exist, but the literature indicates that people and organisations lack appreciation of the range and nature of the techniques available, and do not fully understand the use, value and potential of such techniques. A more profound understanding of the role that different types of problem-solving technique can play and how they can be deployed more effectively in creativity and innovation processes would form a sound basis for the improvement of creative practices and innovation processes within organisations.

This research aims to provide the means to improve innovation and creative problem solving by using more effective matching of participants’ cognitive styles to the techniques available.

In order to achieve synergy in the relationship between the techniques and their users, this research examined the contribution that techniques make to the creative problem solving cycle, and the degree of creativity they encourage was explored first through a review of the relevant literature. This resulted in a novel classification of the techniques and the cognitive skills involved in creative problem solving.

The relationship between people and techniques was investigated through a set of experiments in which individuals and groups undertook problem-solving exercises and responded to a questionnaire to evaluate their experience of the exercise. Participants’ preferred cognitive styles were determined so that problem-solving techniques could be selectively assigned to align with or be opposed to their preferred cognitive styles. Results were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative approaches.

The cognitive styles provided parameters for a taxonomic framework for the techniques. An improved approach to describing personalities based on a continuum of cognitive abilities instead of a set of discrete cognitive styles was a further outcome of this work. The results demonstrate that people show significant preference for problem-solving activities and techniques that are in accord with their preferred cognitive styles. A key conclusion is that people who follow such an approach will improve their ideation productivity in terms of quantity and novelty and will gain more satisfaction from their experience than those who do not. Analysis of the purpose of creative problem solving techniques and the cognitive styles that such techniques encourage, revealed synergy between paradigms used by psychologists and those used by technologists. The synergy between paradigms established a platform for a new creative problem-solving strategy.

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