Tag Archives: Creative problem solving

Can one learn to be creative? New Straits Times Malaysia

January 31, 2018 @ 9:31am

IN the next few years, more than three generations may be working side by side at the workplace. They are the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (also known as millennials) and Generation Z.

Gen Z, who were born after 1995, are beginning to appear in the workplace. By next year, Gen Z is expected to represent more than 20 per cent of the workforce.

Growing up in a world where the Internet, social media and mobile technology have always existed, they will bring their new technology and big ideas with them. It can be a significant challenge to prepare for the clash of these four generations.

Many organisations are still struggling to analyse the challenge that millennials pose in the workplace.

But, how different will Gen Z really be? A digitally innate generation of students, Gen Z have access to more information than the generations before them. Growing up in the age of technology provides them with more outlets and digital tools for exploration and expression.

So, they are said to be more curious, innovative and open-minded than past generations.

While they should be more advanced in searching for information and figuring things out on their own, they also expect everything to be available at any time and with low barriers of access. With Gen Z starting university and the first batch graduating soon, are the schools preparing them for their future? Is higher education ready for them?

A study done by Adobe that provides insight into Malaysian Gen Z students shows that they are feeling unprepared for the problems the “real world” face today, and want greater focus on creativity and hands-on learning in the classroom.

The study, “Gen Z in the Classroom: Creating the Future”, surveyed 250 Gen Z students between the ages of 11 and 17, and 100 teachers in Malaysia.

A similar study was also conducted in five Asia-Pacific (Apac) countries — Australia, India, Thailand, China and Korea. For Malaysia, they found 97 per cent of students and 100 per cent of teachers — the highest rating among five other countries — see creativity as essential to students’ future success.

Malaysian Gen Z students also have mixed emotions when it comes to their future after they finish schools.

According to the study, they feel “excited” and “curious”, but at the same time “nervous” or “worried”. Some are concerned that schools have not properly prepared them for the real world.

They believe that there are a variety of careers that require creativity. Ninety six per cent of students from this study believe their future careers would involve creativity.

Both students and teachers alike agree that Gen Z learn best through hands-on experience and wish that there is more focus on creativity. Students feel that classes focusing on computers and technology hone their creativity and will best prepare them for their future.

Developing creative people is an aim that most in education share; there have been growing calls to nurture and teach creativity from an early age in schools and universities.

The World Economic Forum predicts that creativity will rise from the 10th most sought-after skill in 2015 to the third in 2020.

But, what is creativity? It can seem that creativity is a natural gift for those who are lucky, for instance, great artists, musicians or entrepreneurs. Can one learn to be creative? Can we prime the mind for creative ideas to emerge?

Research has shown that creativity is a skill that can be taught, practised and developed. With imagination, we can be wired to be creative. Creative thinkers in any discipline are those who can tackle complex problems and develop innovative solutions.

Of course, this does not mean that you can teach one to be a genius. The techniques of teaching creativity are not going to turn a student into Einstein or Picasso.

It is more about encouraging day-to-day creative thinking that can make a student, and then later, as an adult, more productive.

Many educators claim to value creativity, but they do not always prioritise it. In some parts of the world, teaching creativity is already a necessary part of an undergraduate experience.

The International Centre for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College in New York is the world’s first university department of its type.

The term “makerspace” in education — probably still new in Malaysia’s education scene — is also the buzzword now to refer to physical spaces that support learning and doing, in a way that redefines traditional schooling. It provides hands-on experiences and encourages creative ways for students to design, experiment, build and invent.

How can creativity be cultivated in the classroom? The way Gen Z students consume and learn today is very different from past generations, hence, educators in Malaysia need to provide the right environment, updated tools and creative outlets to bring out the best in their students and foster innovative problem-solving skills the future workforce will need.

Education systems should focus less on the reproduction of information and more on critical thinking and problem solving. There are multiple solutions to open-ended and complex problems, a situation that the students will face as they pursue future careers.

Encouraging divergent instead of convergent thinking leads to solving problems that do not have one correct answer.

However, it is important to remember that teaching creativity does not mean that we should throw out the textbooks and exams while encouraging children to let their minds wander rather than concentrate in the classroom.

Children should not be given free rein for their imagination to run wild at the cost of understanding a subject. In encouraging creativity, I believe if you want to think outside the box, you must fully understand what is inside the box first.


Hazlina Aziz left her teaching career more than 20 years ago to take on different challenges beyond the conventional classroom. She is NSTP’s education editor for English language content.


Creative Problem Solving – a skill needed for the Future: Adobe Study

In preparation for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, take a look at this infographic revealing research by Adobe. It shows the importance of Creative Problem Solving – of using new thinking to approach and solve challenges to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too.
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 6.34.20 PMScreen Shot 2018-01-26 at 6.35.00 PM

You can see the regional difference insights here.

What are three things you can do, or three people you can talk to about this  – to use creative problem-solving day-to-day?  It’s important.

What’s WCID all about?

I was at our local chamber of commerce informal business networking event last night and invited those present, in 1:1 conversations, to begin planning for their World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, 2018.

Tanya Sullivan, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant reviews WCID one-sheet with Marci Segal at Bow Valley Chamber of Commerce Bevvies and Business, October 25, 2017, held at Canmore Brewing Company.


Observations: Many did not know about it, and when they learned of the UN’s adoption of the day, paid attention.

I brought along a document, a handout, WCID One pager October 2017, that, given people’s reactions, needs improving.

As I discussed the WCID opportunities available for local businesses, some people understood right away, and others, well, not so much.


The Question: This morning, on reflection I wondered – what is World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 and Week, April 15-21 all about? That is, how to best describe to people to invite participation?


The Aha! WCID is about flexibilizing people’s brains; to use new patterns of thinking to approach the challenges we face and will face in the future.


The Story: I took my first course in Creative Studies in 1977 with Dr. Sidney J. Parnes at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo. On the first day of class, he handed out a blue examination booklet and said, “Solve a problem.”

I didn’t know what to do, so, I wrote 2+2=4 on the first page, closed the booklet, wrote my name on the cover and handed it in. I was out of the class in less than a minute.

At the end of the semester, without my knowing he would, Sid did the exactly the same thing.  He handed out blue examination booklets and said, “Solve a problem.”

This time, I opened the booklet and began to write, “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” and proceeded to use the creative problem-solving process we learned. I…

  • Identified a challenge to address
  • Scoped its context
  • Defined an opportunity for problem-solving
  • Generated many different ideas
  • Sculpted a prototype solution, and
  • Mapped its action plan.

After about 90 minutes, I closed the book, wrote my name on the cover and, before handing it over to Sid, asked if I could have it back when he was finished with it.  Sid smiled and said, “Yes.”

Sid Parnes, Marci Segal, 1995
Sid Parnes and Marci Segal at ACRE 2 in South Africa, 1995

In 16 weeks I learned how to use creativity in problem-solving; to honour the human spirit of curiosity, exploration, wonder, and imagination, and use them to perceive challenges and opportunities, and solve them, in new, unusual and relevant ways.

There was no looking back.

WCID founding principle 1: Wouldn’t it be great if everyone in the world had the confidence in their capacity to use creativity in problem-solving?


Call to Action

In planning for your WCID2018 do what you can to use your brain in ways it hasn’t been used before, to increase its flexibleness and your resilience to adapting to and creating meaningful change.

What are some ways to help people feel confident in their abilities to use their creativity in problem-solving?  Feel free to add suggestions, references, and resources for people to consult in the comments section.

WCID: celebrating that we can generate new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and achieve new results that make the world a better place and make our place in the world better too.

What does it mean to use creativity in problem solving? Have your say.

Greetings all! It was an honour and a privilege to meet with Ambassador I. Rhonda King, Permanent Representative to the United Nations from St. Vincent and the Grenadines last week, on Thursday, April 20, 2017, to discuss the upcoming resolution to include World Creativity and Innovation Day among the UN Days of Observance.  Ambassador King is the champion of this resolution.

Ambassador I. Rhoda King. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Marci Segal, Founder, World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21. 4/20/2017
Ambassador King is championing that all levels – government, public sector, and civil society –  use creativity in problem-solving to make the world a better place and to make our place in the world better too, to reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

[A fuller report on the journey to the United Nations will follow in the next few weeks.  Please use the comment section below to include the questions you have.]


What does it mean to use creativity in problem-solving?

Would you like to contribute to the understanding of what it means to use creativity in problem-solving?

I am preparing a document to submit to the UN describing what to expect when creativity is used in problem-solving at the government, private sector, and civil society, and welcome your voice, your additions.  You will, of course, be given credit for your contribution and will receive a copy of the document for your files.

Please keep submissions to 250 words or less, bullet form is fine, and say from which country you are writing.  Copy editing may take place. Depending on the breadth of contributions, a summary paragraph may result, summing up the themes brought forward.

Use this page for your submissions, deadline is May 7

What’s next?

Short term: I am on holiday for the next few weeks and look forward to compiling what you submit, beginning May 7, the deadline for your comments.

Longer term: Because attention to life on our planet is of prime importance, I urge you to review the Sustainable Development Goals and view each as an opportunity for creative problem-solving at home, at work, in your government, and to include these in your goals for #WCID2018 and #WCIW2018

  • What might be ways to align actions and use each as stimulation for creative problem-solving?
  • How might you combine what you are currently involved in with advancing these goals?
  • What are ways to collaborate with unlikely partners to make a difference?

Moving forward:

  • Your examples of applying creativity in problem-solving to meet the 2030 Sustainability Goals will inspire others to act in meaningful, responsible, wise and impactful ways to make a difference that makes a difference. Please keep a record of them.
  • Help is needed, your help, to keep conversations alive, to keep creative energy moving.
  • We are in for the times of our lives! Ask for what you need and want to build creative confidence, competence, capacity, comfort, and commitment to using our creativity (new ideas, new decisions, new actions, new outcomes) to make the world a better place and to make our place in the world better too.

With appreciation for your leadership,



The Bloomberg Job Skills Report: What Recruiters Really Want

A survey of recruiters reveals the most sought-after skills in business, and where to get them.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.bloomberg.com

The less common and more desired skills employers want include: strategic thinking, creative problem solving, leadership and communication.  Wouldn’t it be great to use World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 to strengthen these qualities among students and staff?

Why Creativity?

Creativity gives you the opportunity to make the best use out of what you know.

20130217-041854.jpgI was surprised to see these windshield wipers standing upright.  Caused me to wonder why; looked odd.

Then it occurred to me – it makes sense. Positioning them upright prevents the wipers from freezing into the crevice between the windshield and car hood.

Doing this eliminates the need to dig them out, which may not always be easy to do if there is also freezing rain.  Great idea! Creative problem-solving in action.

How might you make the best use of what you know to celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 and Week April 15-21?