Training in creative problem solving: Effects on ideation and problem finding in an applied research organization

The effects of training in a multistage “complete process of creative problem solving” on attitudes and behaviors of individuals were assessed both immediately after training and return to work. A controlled field “true” experiment was conducted within an engineering department doing applied research in a large industrial organization. Multiple methods and measures were employed on trained (n = 16), placebo (n = 16), and non-placebo (n = 13) groups. The process trained addressed three critical stages: problem finding, problem solving, and solution implementation, each containing a fundamental diverging-converging two-step process called “ideation-evaluation.” The main findings strongly suggest the training resulted in significant, systematically measurable effects both immediately after training and 2 weeks later at work. The trained participants were significantly higher in preference for ideation in problem solving, practice of ideation in both problem finding and problem solving, and performance in problem finding. The data give rise to speculation that there may exist differing “optimum ideation-evaluation ratios” for each of the problem finding, problem solving, and solution implementation stages. These ratios may also differ by field of endeavor.

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Measuring preference for ideation in creative problem solving training

Creativity, problem solving, and innovation are of increasing concern to organizations in these times of accelerating change. This article seeks to deepen readers’ understanding of the specific attitudes and thinking processes associated with creative behavior in organizations. The authors report on two empirical studies that developed a reliable, valid measure of “preference for ideation,” an important attitude identified in previous creative problem-solving training research. They also identify three additional, distinct ideation-related attitudes: the tendency to make premature critical evaluations of ideas, the valuing of new ideas, and the belief that creative thinking is bizarre. The article presents a speculative model that differentiates “ideation” and “deferral of judgment” attitudinally and cognitively, categorizing Osborn’s brainstorming rules accordingly.

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Usefulness of the ideation principle of extended effort in real world professional and managerial problem solving.

In this study, the usefulness of the ideation principle of extended effort is field-tested on meaningful managerial and technical problems. Most previous testing has been in the laboratory on non-real world problems. Specifically tested and supported is the hypothesis that the best (most preferred) Idea Is more likely to occur after rather than during, the chronological earliest ideas (first third) so generated. Also tested, but not supported, is a more stringent hypothesis, that the best (most preferred) idea is more likely to occur among the chronologically latest (last third) so generated.

Also in this study, a system of five hypotheses is put together from the literature including the two hypotheses above. The purpose is to explain several different Interpretations of benefits theoretically expected from the extended effort technique.

The empirical support for each of the hypotheses is reviewed. The two tested in this research are those which have not previously been empirically tested either in the laboratory or the field. This work is important In view of the rapidly growing Interest In training to increase organizational creativity (Grossman, 1982: Abend, 1979). The literature on such training is fragmentary and incomplete (Basadur, Graen & Green, 1982).

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