A common definition of creativity is: ‘the generation and development of novel and useful ideas.’

Innovation can be thought of as value produced from creative ideas. In other words, there can be creativity without innovation, but there can be no innovation without creativity.

The selected tools in this online toolkit, as well as the full Creative Problem Solving Toolkit in PDF format, has been designed to help you and your colleagues use creative problem solving techniques.  It assumes that you are working on challenges where the problem is ‘messy’: there are multiple interpretations of what the problem is, as well as no obvious ‘right’ solution, and plenty of requests for “new ideas”. In short, you’ll want the group you are working with to be creative in its thinking. The group is needed because the challenge is too complex for one person – and diversity of thought drives creativity.

Watch this short video where Dr Seema Srivastava, Associate Medical Director, talks through how North Bristol NHS Trust used the lotus blossom tool as part of the planning to launch and manage the Trust’s vaccination centre in Bristol:

Whilst this toolkit was developed for use in industry, it is also relevant for the challenges we face in healthcare.

Download the full Creative Problem Solving Toolkit

More detail on the theory of creative problem solving and information on a range of tools that can be used in the three elements of the framework are included within the full toolkit, which can be downloaded as a PDF: Creative Problem Solving Toolkit

The toolkit has built on the work of others: Creative Problem Solving Group, Buffalo; One Step Beyond, Consulting; the Open University B822 module on Creativity, Innovation and Change; and Bluegreen Learning. It has been synthesised by Dr Rob Sheffield from Bluegreen Learning, and modified for use in healthcare by the West of England Academy.

A framework for the creative problem solving process













Whilst it is not necessary to work through each of the three stages every time you need creative thinking, the framework offers a natural approach for invention within the wider Innovation and Improvement Journey:

  1. Clarify the challenge
  2. Generate and select ideas
  3. Plan for implementation

N.B Whilst implementation in the context of this framework could mean implement the solution into practice – it more likely is a plan for the implementation of the next phase of the wider innovation journey i.e. developing and testing the idea to understand if the solution is a valid thing to do, and if it’s worth doing.

A selection of tools from the Creative Problem Solving Toolkit

To aid your creative problem solving, we’ve selected eight of the more commonly used tools from the full Creative Problem Solving Toolkit, and produced guidance notes, worksheets and short videos to help explain how to use this selection of tools. The eight tools are laid across a three-stage framework – please use the links to start your creative problem solving journey:

Step one: Clarify the challenge (tools to support problem exploration and definition)

  • Web of Abstraction
  • Boundary Examination

Step two: Generate and select ideas

  • Lotus Blossom
  • Pictures as Prompts
  • Idea Selection – the main principles

Step three: Plan for implementation

  • ALUo – Advantages, limits, unique qualities
  • Concept Creation and Development
  • Business case

You can view all the videos available as part of the Creative Problem Solving Toolkit here.

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