The following paper discusses creative problem solving and its use in motivating employees in an organization. The creative problem-solving styles are critical to the development and productivity of the organization. Problems are likely to emerge in organizations and anywhere there are human beings. Therefore, the ability to solve problems is critical to the successful management of an organization. This research explores the process of creative problem solving to motivate the employees to high levels of productivity. The first part addresses the analysis of creative problem-solving in an organization by providing examples of problems that are likely to occur in an organization and how the manager can approach them to find solutions. The second part presents arguments of how to solve problems in organizations by motivating employees. It looks into the role of motivation, the process as well as perspectives of motivation. It also discusses the ways that managers can use the creating problem-solving skills to motivate the employees.
Primary and backup personal creative problem-solving style to include a limiting style
In problem-solving, the process that I am likely to use in solving the problem is the development or the explorer style. This style of problem-solving entails coming up with new solutions to the exciting challenge. It exposes the new ways and then implements the solution to solve those challenges. To understand creative problem-solving better, it is imperative to understand different styles that apply to problem-solving. The first style is the explorer style that involves coming up with proper methods of solving the problem. The second approach to creative problem-solving is the development style of problem-solving where the solutions to the problem are not new but modified or customized to deal with that particular situation (Hurson, 2007).
The other style of creative problem solving is the cooperative style where the solutions are not individually based but developed by the group or organization collectively. This approach is also known as cooperative or participatory creative problem-solving. The other problem-solving style is the non-participatory where an individual makes a personal approach where the problems are solved individually and the decision is made based on the individual’s creativity. In this case, the approach that will be used as the primary problem-solving approach is the participatory problem-solving approach whereas the other problem-solving approach will be the individual or non-participatory creative problem solving (Hurson, 2007).
As part of the management, problem-solving is crucial to the survival and sustainability of any organization. To solve the problems like high employee turnover and low productivity in the organization, the management may choose to include employees in the problem-solving process. A meeting may take place where the problem identification is done and the employees analyze the problems. They provide possible solutions to the problem and decide how to implement the problem collectively. In the non-participatory approach, the manager may decide to handle the problem individually rather than incorporate everyone. The manager will identify the problem, analyze it, evaluate the possible solutions as well as implement the solutions. The nonparticipatory is the limiting style as it may present challenges because the solutions provided to the employees are not based on their perspective but the manager’s perspective.
The impact of these styles on the functions of management
The first style which is participatory creative problem solving has a distinct impact from the non-participatory approach to the management. The participatory approach affects the functions of the management in several ways. The first one is that the participatory approach places the management as the coordinator. The work of the management ceases to be decision making but coordinates the decision-making process. The solutions that are arrived at are collective rather than management decisions. This is because involving everyone in the decision-making process through brainstorming and eliminating the solution may not be practical. The role of the management also changes from managing the employees to providing leadership. Management entails supervision but leadership involves motivating the employees. Since the solutions implemented by the organization have been made collectively, the employees do have a sense of ownership of the process and activities of the organization. This means that supervision is not necessary, as the employees are highly motivated. The role of management also involves the provision of rewards to those who have come up with solutions rather than punishing people. This increases morale and leads to high levels of productivity (Alvesson, 2008).
The non-participatory approach also affects the management functions in that the management becomes the sole decision-maker. All the decisions made within the organization are from the management, as this style does not incorporate collective decision-making. This implies that the employees also make decisions individually and rewards are not collective but individual. This creates competition within the organization and a culture of individual innovation. The management must have close supervision of the employees to ensure that they implement the decision made by the management (Burns, 1961).
The non-participatory approach is necessary where the decisions made by the individuals have direct influence. For instance, a pilot cannot ascribe to the participatory approach during the flight. The pilot is fully responsible for the operations and decisions made during the flight. This is because consulting will waste time, create an impasse, and decisions made may lead to the loss of human lives. However, in a situation where a project requires the involvement of other people like in construction companies the management must consider the interests of many individuals in the organization to create harmony. This means that the company must consult the stakeholders such as the government, the public, and other companies involved in the work (Amabile, 1998).
The origin of the personal styles
Knowing the origin of the personal styles of problem-solving comes because of the development of solutions that will help the organization demands to have a basis for supporting its mechanism of solving problems. The creative problem-solving styles may originate from the person’s background and personality. Some people deal with problems by being confrontational in problem-solving. People who have competitive background tend to ascribe to the non-participatory approach to problem-solving where they solve problems individually and want to receive rewards for their creative solutions. The personality influences the problem-solving styles ascribed by the company. The personality of individuals will influence their approach to problem-solving skills. For instance, those who are introverts are likely to prefer the non-participatory problem-solving style while extroverts are likely to prefer the participatory approach that incorporates everyone (Brooks, 2009).
Creative problem solving is not for product development and organization conflicts alone. It also applies to personality-related problems that may be detrimental to the organization as it leads to internal conflicts. These conflicts lead to absenteeism and low productivity. Having a culture that understands that there will be such conflicts that require creative solutions is imperative. These types of conflicts affect the employees’ morale negatively as it creates animosity and unnecessary competition between them. Applying the principles of creative problem solving to deal with interpersonal differences between the employees fosters a good working environment (Trompenaars & Williams, 2003).
Other than the personality of those involved, the type of work that the companies engage in determines the type of problem-solving approach. For instance, the companies that deal with sales and marketing must use the participatory approach in their marketing activities. This is to ensure that the brand that they are creating has full acceptance by the organization members. In addition, product developers in a company must consult customers to know what they need for them to come up with products that will satisfy them (Hurson, 2007).
However, other aspects of the organization such as information security management of the organization may not take a participatory approach. This is because the information security systems have crucial information and sharing it as a way of creative problem solving may compromise the security of the organization. It may expose the information to an unauthorized person who may not be needed by the organization. This means that the security department and information systems department may use the non-participatory approach to problem-solving. This is imperative to the development of the organization’s objectives as it will create the necessary motivation to make the employees productive (Hofstede, 2001).
The culture as well as the tradition that the organization has determined the methods of problem-solving it adopts in problem-solving. Organizational cultures that do not promote innovation due to bureaucracy and traditions may not take a participatory approach in decision-making. The decision will be the prerogative of the management and employees are not part of the decision-making process in the organization. This hinders employees’ creativity and innovation as the organization has no room for creative solutions to the existing problems (Holbeche, 2006).
Conclusion and reflection
Creative problem solving is critical to the growth of the organization. Organizational conflicts, power conflicts, competition, and customers’ evolving needs are common in today’s organizations. They require the organization to apply innovation in solving them. Failure to be innovative in problem-solving will lead to the failure of the organization. The organization must apply creative problem solving to motivate the employees. Creative problem solving not only increases the profitability of the organization but also improves the environment that is required for the work to succeed.
Creative problem solving interrelates with employee motivation in several ways. The first one is that it reduces bureaucracy as decisions are made collectively. During the process of decision-making, the employees feel that they are part of the process and therefore get a chance to interact with the managers directly and address issues that challenge them.
The second influence that creative problem solving has on employees’ motivation is that it meets Maslow’s need for self-actualization and self-esteem by allowing them to contribute to the management decisions. An example of an organization that recognizes creativity is the Siemens Company, which has a creativity academy for employees. They are allowed to come up with new designs and create their products at the expense of the company. This allows the company to have telecommunication gadgets that solve a variety of problems for the consumers (Mullins, 2010).
Creative problem solving motivates the employees in that they do not have to work under supervision. Since the non-participatory approach requires individualism and the workers to be motivated by what they have to produce, such employees may work overtime without demanding extra compensation for them to deal with the existing challenges (Hurson, 2007).
The non-participatory approach may need resource support, as innovations require resources. The process of creative problem solving is reward-based. The rewards emanating from the solutions provided from the process of problem-solving imply that the organization that uses the creative problem-solving approaches may have to formulate strategies of providing resources to the employees and other stakeholders involved in creative decision-making. The resources are for rewarding innovation and creativity in problem-solving.
Although creative problem solving is critical to the motivation of employees and increasing productivity, the management must also have a way of identifying the problems that need the creative approach as well as others that must be solved according to the company values. The company must realize that there are defining values, perceptions, and cultures that define the organization. If creative problem-solving compromises the brand, the values, and the traditions that the organization upholds, such solutions need elimination. This may lead to partial inhibition of creativity; it may result in employee dissatisfaction as well as high employee turnover. However, there are problems that the management must assert the values, which it upholds for them to be solved. For instance, the company may have the value of placing the customer first. The innovation or a solution that eliminates the customer should not take priority due to the conflict of values (Hurson, 2007).
Creative technique or strategy of leadership
The following is the creative strategy of leadership to use in creative problem solving for creativity in problem-solving in the organization. The creative strategy will involve the participatory approach towards problem-solving where the process will incorporate the parties involved in the process. The objective of using this strategy is to stimulate creativity as well as the development of issues. The strategy incorporates the process of the creative process of problem-solving while taking into consideration the role of management in providing leadership to each part of the process.
In the process of creative problems, the leadership should provide a calm environment for the workers in the organization to solve the problems creatively (Hurson, 2007). They argue that a person cannot come up with creative ideas if they are not calm and relaxed. The relaxation places the mind into proper perspective to think of the challenge critically. The relaxation can come through sleeping, moving to a serene place, resting, or moving away from disturbance (Hurson, 2007).
After relaxing, the leadership or management should facilitate the second step in the process of creative problem-solving in identifying the problem, which is problem identification and entails listing down the potential problem. The next step is Analyzing the problem that entails identifying the gaps, the challenges, and the reasons that have led to the problem. It is classifying the problem as an interpersonal conflict, values conflict, organizational conflict, or power conflict. The process of analyzing the problem is crucial because it helps to know how the problem may be solved depending on the type of the problem, the urgency of the problem, the cause of the problem, and the parties involved in the problem. This process may involve brainstorming or coming up with many reasons as to why the problem exists. All the ideas are viable and no idea should be dismissed at this stage (Hurson, 2007).
The creative problem-solving strategy adopted by the organization should incorporate a time of brainstorming solutions. Brainstorming sessions involve accepting that there are challenges and then providing a solution to the problem. This process involves presenting all the possible solutions without dismissing any of the ideas. This is imperative as it ensures that there are many ways of dealing with the problem. After brainstorming, evaluating the solutions provided earlier is the next step. At this stage, the solutions that are not achievable are eliminated.
Once the possible solutions have been identified, the next process involves planning how to implement the solution comprehensively. In most instances, the solution arrived at is new and cannot solve problems if it is not well planned. The solution is likely to fail in the implementation if there is no planning on how to implement the new ideas to solve the problem. The management must be responsive to new ideas so that they can approve the use of resources to help the organization deal with the problem. Rewarding those involved in the formulation of the new solution is equally important in the process of problem-solving. This is because it motivates the employees or those involved to solve problems creatively and come up with new solutions to the existing problems (Cameron & Quinn, 2006).
Alvesson, M. (2008). Changing organizational culture. London: Rutledge.
Amabile, T. (1998). How to kill creativity. Harvard Business Review, 76, 77-89.
Brooks, I. (2009). Organizational behavior. Harlow: Prentice-Hall.
Burns, T. (1961). The management of innovation. London: Tavistock.
Cameron, K. & Quinn, R. (2006). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture. New Jersey: Jossey Bass.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences. California: Thousand Oaks.
Holbeche, L. (2006). Understanding change: Theory, implementation, and success. London: Heinemann.
Hurson, T. (2007). Think better: An innovator’s guide to productive thinking. New York: McGraw Hill.
Mullins, L. (2010). Management and organizational behavior. New York: Prentice-Hall.
Trompenaars, F. & Williams, P. (2003). Business across cultures. Capstone: Chichester.