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How to create a culture of creative problem solving

For leaders in any business function, creative thinking and problem solving are essential to drive growth, foster innovation and manage change. A recent research identified creativity and innovation as top critical success factors not only for organisations, but also for leaders and their teams. Both creativity and innovation are generated by human talent and no matter how advanced your processes and systems are, it’s the creative confidence and drive of the people, as well as their collective intelligence that will boost your company’s bottom line performance and take it to the next level.

Establishing cognitive diversity

When leaders fail to foster high quality interactions within a team, they lose out on the benefit of discourse between people who see things differently. This can result in lack of understanding of individual and team problems, fewer creative ideas, diminished commitment to act, increased levels of resistance and reduced morale. An environment where people see opportunities, instead of purely focusing on problems ignites cognitive diversity and unites the different minds to work together on the often-challenging journey of strategy execution.

It’s not easy to create a company culture where people see opportunities instead of problems. But as one of the first steps, you can start by helping your team to assess their own problem-solving abilities and reward their improvements. Problem solving comes in many shapes and forms like collaboration, problem identification, new information application, discipline, rule breaking or invention of new approaches, just to name a few. A simple step back to have a look at the bigger picture can be a very effective way to assess the problem and work together towards a solution.

The curious approach

High performing teams treat problems and mistakes with curiosity and shared responsibility for outcomes. This not only results in creating an environment where people can express their ideas and thoughts without social retribution, but this environment is also one of psychological safety. When your team feels psychologically safe, they are not afraid to speak up with their ideas, mistakes or concerns. On the other hand, if your team is lacking psychological safety, they will feel that they can be punished or humiliated for speaking up and they won’t fully contribute, which can result in increased anxiety and defensive behaviours.

Behaviours within teams determine the quality of interactions and organisational culture. When it comes to leaders, they need to consider not only how they will act, but more importantly, how they will not act. It’s their role to disrupt unhealthy and unhelpful patterns of behaviours and establish new, more effective behaviours and routines. If leaders enhance creative thinking and high-quality interactions within their teams, business performance and wellbeing will follow.

At Acumen we create and deliver bespoke leadership programmes for leaders at all levels. Our programme “Creative thinking and problem solving” is designed to equip delegates with the tools and techniques to substantially enhance their performance and results through generating ideas and solutions to problems and tasks in a creative and imaginative way. They will recognise their lateral and logical abilities and gain self-confidence to deal with day to day issues, problems and challenges. For more details, please contact Simon at

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