What I learned during the Future Learn Creative Problem Solving course

Updated: Apr 6

In March 2021, Action On The Side ran a virtual Work Experience for Level 3 Media students. This article has been written as part of that, by Alfie L

Alfie took part in the FutureLearn Creative Problem Solving Online Course

All Aspects of Creativity


What I think creativity is?

I personally think to be creative is to think outside the box and to not limit yourself. Creativity is a form of expression and can be done throughout art, film, fashion, photography anything really but those are the categories I split my creative skills into. I personally enjoy creating artwork which I like to interpret through makeup, dressing up with a bold fashion sense and elements of Film. During the course, many people shared their own interpretations of what it means to be creative.


The context of creativity

A muse (Ancient Greek mythology), a group of sister goddesses, were originally patron goddesses of poets. To begin with they were musicians although later they included all liberal arts and sciences. The ancient Greeks believed the Muses were inspirational and were “creators” or “to create”. They believed that the gods created these people and invented heaven-like creatures. The Muses were known as the supervisors of human creativity.


Although Greeks had no words that directly corresponded with the word creativity, their architecture, music, art, inventions and many other examples are what we would call pieces of creative work.


Psychology and cognitive science:


In 1926, Graham Wallas published his work Art of Thought, which was a model of the creative process. Wallas believed creativity was evolution in humans and how quick we adapt to changes in environments. The model consists of five stages

  1. Preparation (focuses on person's mind and explores the problems dimensions)

  2. Incubation (problem is internalised into their subconscious mind and nothing externally is happening)

  3. Intimation (person gets a feeling a solution is coming)

  4. Illumination (idea changes from its subconscious processing into conscious awareness)

  5. Verification (idea is verified and then applied)

This is different to Finkes' model Geneplore, introduced and proposed in 1992. Finkes believed that creativity takes place in two phases rather than five. The first one being the generative phase, where someone constructs mental representations called preinventive structures. And the second one being the exploratory phase where those structures are used to come up with creative ideas.



What it actually means

Creativity is a word that means different things to different people. But what do we mean exactly by “creativity”? Creativity is turning new, imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is the ability to perceive the world in new ways, find hidden patterns and to generate solutions. It involves two processes: thinking, then producing. There is artistic creativity: visual arts, music, literature, design, architecture, film and video, TV and radio. This is where the concept of the creative industry stems from.


Before the pandemic, the creative industries added £115.9bn gross value to the UK's economy which is more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences, oil and gas industries combined. In the previous ten years, jobs in the UK’s Creative Industries grew at three times the UK average. What are the creative industries? Well, the creative industries in the UK are advertising and marketing, Architecture, Crafts, Design (graphics, textiles, fashion), Video (film, tv, animation, VFX, SFX, radio & photography), Creative tech (IT, video games, software & computer services), Creativity in public (museums, galleries, libraries and heritage), Music (performing and visual arts) and Publishing (books, articles, news). One-third of the creative sector is self-employed, the creative industries employ over two million people and are looking to have created at least one million additional jobs by 2030.


What is creative thinking?

Creative thinking is the ability to approach a problem or something in a new way. It’s thinking outside of the box and involves lateral thinking. Lateral thinking looks at things from a sideways perspective in order to find answers that may not be immediately apparent. These skills are commonly used in careers like marketing and advertising. This type of thinking helps organisations be more productive. Creative thoughts in a workplace vary from blatant artistic positions to highly technical ones. Anything that is a “wow” moment is considered to be creative.


Creative problem solving

Instead of just identifying and implementing the norm, a creative problem-solver will find new solutions that stand out as innovative. There is a step by step process which helps redefine the problems and come up with these solutions. These work best in group meetings. The simplest form of this process includes these steps:

  1. Clarify (objectives, the problem, facts and the opportunity)

  2. Generate Ideas (think of possible solutions and approaches to the problem)

  3. Solve (develop ideas into solutions)

  4. Implement (make a plan and commit to the next steps)

The core principles of creative problem-solving (CPS) are:

  • Divergent and convergent thinking. The key to being a creative problem solver is to learn how to identify and balance the two separately and knowing when to practice each one.

  • Ask questions. Rephrasing problems as open questions with multiple possibilities makes it easier to create solutions in your brain. Asking open questions generates richer information whereas asking a closed question tends to generate short answers, such as confirmations/agreements or disagreements.

  • Suspend judgement. Judging solutions tends to shut down idea generation.

  • Focus on “Yes and” rather than “No but”. “Yes and” encourages people to expand their thoughts and ideas which is important especially during certain stages of CPS.


Example of creative work

Creative work is a manifestation of creative effort. For example artwork (paintings, drawings, sketching), dance, films, photography, advertisements, scripts, stories, articles etc



What does Creativity mean to you?

Tell us in the comments