McKinsey recently published this article about a 7-step process for structured, creative problem solving. It’s a classic “problem-backward” strategy. It’s good, but it’s NOT the only strategy.
The McKinsey strategy is not unlike the “Jobs to be Done” strategy (popularized by Christensen, Ulwick, and the “design thinking” others) where a problem space is identified, observations are made, data gathered, and then a series of additional steps are taken to theorize or hypothesize into a solution space.
But the process CAN be done in reverse, too! We can take any existing product or service, generate alternative constructions by applying systematic changes to it, then theorizing the benefits and feasibility of such a construction. Upon assessing positive potential, we can then gather data and conduct research into the problem spaces that might bring use to this new construction. This is the technique employed by the TRIZ and “systematic inventive thinking” (or SIT) techniques.
The biggest takeaway is that a structured process is significantly more likely to produce results that you can track and monitor for adequacy and learning. Creativity is not a random success proposition and the research proves it.
Want to learn more? Check out our paper on this subject.