The project is conceived of in two phases: 

Phase 1: Gathering of background knowledge

A literature review is conducted to identify best practices in social innovation in the target sector. Data is then gathered in order to garner a deeper understanding of the current challenges and obstacles in the area; with specific attention to the experiences of ‘service users’/’neighbours in our catchment. Each sector’s needs and availability of existing information dictates the method in which the data is gathered. Methods have included focus groups, data visualization and surveys.

Phase 2: Creative Problem Solving facilitation

This phase uses the information and data from Phase 1 as a foundation to engage a diverse group of stakeholders in creative problem-solving sessions with a view towards creating social innovations for greater efficiency and/or effectiveness in the target area.

Creative-Problem Solving

Creativity enhancement programs have been the preferred approach for developing interventions aimed at improving creative performance and producing creative outcomes (outcomes judged to be novel and useful) (Montouri, 1992). Smith (1998) identified 172 techniques and instructional creativity enhancements methods that have, at one time or another, been used to develop people’s creative thinking skills and creative achievement. Numerous scholars have evaluated the efficacy of creativity enhancements programs, and a general consensus is that the “Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem-Solving” program yields high and consistent returns in terms of improving creative performance (Rose & Lin,1984; Scott et al., 2004; Torrance, 1972).

The hallmark of the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem-Solving program is the dynamic balance of divergent thinking (a broad search for many diverse and novel alternatives) and convergent thinking (a focused and affirmative evaluation of novel alternatives) applied across seven discrete phases of a problem-solving process (Orientation, Preparation, Analysis, Hypothesis, Incubation, Synthesis, and Verification). Developed in 1953, the model has evolved significantly in light of the lessons learned through research and application. The “Thinking Skills Model” developed by Puccio, Mance, and Murdock (2007) at the International Center for Studies in Creativity, SUNY-Buffalo State builds on the principles of the Osborn-Parnes model and adds a formal recognition of both the cognitive and affective skills that are used during the process of creative problem solving (see: Puccio et al., 2012). The structure of the model comprises three conceptual stages, six explicit process steps (each with a repetition of divergence and convergence), and one executive step at the heart of the model.

In addition to the CPS curriculum we deliver here at Sheridan, we have significant experience partnering with business, public sector organizations, and community actors through CPS facilitation and applied research. Through these experiences, we have first-hand knowledge of the ways in which our partners have benefited from CPS.

From a thinking-skills perspective, these benefits include: an enhanced understanding of complex problems (problem finding and definition); a structured, participatory approach for generating original ideas (idea generation); an affirmative, inclusive approach to developing, comparing and evaluating original ideas (solution generation); a fully developed and clear plan for implementing creative ideas (implementation plans).

From an organizational perspective, these benefits include: ongoing exchanges of information,
experiences and views; improved cooperation, participation and engagement of all stakeholders; greater ‘group ownership’ by participants over the problems/solutions; greater efficiency with the social sector; greater effectiveness and collaboration amongst stakeholders; improved organizational culture; new knowledge and innovation.

Montouri, A. (1992). Two books on creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 5, 199-203.

Puccio, G., Murdock, M., and Mance, M. (2007). Creative Leadership: Skills That Drive Change. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publication.

Puccio, G., Mance, M., Barbero Switalski, L., and Reali, P.D., (2012). Creativity Rising: Creative Thinking and Creative Problem Solving in the 21st Century. Buffalo, N.Y.: ICSC Press, International Center for Studies in Creativity.

Rose , L. H., & Lin, H. (1984). A meta-analysis of long-term creativity training programs. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 18(1), 11-22. doi:10.1002/j.2162-6057.1984.tb00985.x

Scott, G., Leritz, L. E., & Mumford, M. D. (2004). The effectiveness of creativity training: A
quantitative review. Creativity Research Journal, 16(4), 361-388.

Smith, G. F. (1998). Idea generation techniques: A formulary of active ingredients. Journal of Creative Behavior, 32(107-134).

Torrance, E. P. (1972). Can we teach children to think creatively? The Journal of Creative Behavior, 6(2), 114-143. doi:10.1002/j.2162-6057.1972.tb00923.x.