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Paul Reali

Paul Reali, MS, MBA
OmniSkills Founder & Principal
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Creativity is the creation of something that is both novel and useful.

Thought of another way, creativity is disruption with a purpose. It is a required element of innovation, where innovation is the introduction of a creative product into a marketplace (where both "product" and "marketplace" are broadly defined). It is the hard work of scientific discovery, the labor of designing and building something original. It is the 99% perspiration that Thomas Edison said was required for invention.

Creativity is applied in many domains and in different forms. Producing a work of art (broadly here: painting, music, dance, writing, etc.) is a creative act. So too is inventing a new product, finding a new way to perform a task or provide a service, designing a new building, developing a new theory, making a scientific discovery, and much more.

What we are not considering to be creative is an idea. Ideas are cheap. The term "creative idea" is common, but incorrect. At the time of its arrival, an idea is untested, unformed, unverified. Ideas are embryonic, but with the hard work of the creative process, they can become novel and useful solutions - creative products.

A helpful lens was provided by Mel Rhodes in 1961, the Four P’s of creativity: Person, Process, Product, and Press (the “press” of the environment). We can view (assess, study, measure, understand, etc.) creativity by looking at each of these variables individually. We can consider the characteristics of the person; we can analyze the process used; we can assess the creativity of the end product; and we can examine the support (or lack of support) in the environment in which the creativity occurred.


CPS (OmniSkills Model)Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is deliberate creativity. We all have a natural creative process, which tends to look like this:

Clarify > Ideate > Develop > Implement

CPS mirrors that process, providing an intentional methodology that we can use when our natural process needs assistance. We clarify in CPS with the stages Imagine the Future and Find the Questions. We Ideate with the stage Generate Ideas. We develop with the stage Craft Solutions. And we implement with Explore Acceptance and Plan for Action.

The question of whether to use a natural or a deliberate process is not an either/or. It is (as is often true with creativity) a yes/and. When our natural creative process serves us well, it is all we need. When it is not enough - that is, when we can benefit from paying attention to our thinking, and from the deliberate use of techniques and tools - then we turn to a process such as CPS. Groups, particularly, benefit from CPS. It provides a common language, and a shared methodology through which to acheive our creative goals - something that is difficult when each individual is using his or her own creative process.

You can, of course, choose to solve problems in conventional ways. Indeed, most problems are solved using known solutions. Creativity is solving problems in new and better ways. Creativity is how your organization becomes truly innovative, and how it and uncovers new, different, and market-making opportunities.


The word "creative" in the title refers to the results you seek: novel and useful solutions, not just tried and true and traditional ones. But is CPS itself creative? While CPS is no longer new - it has been is use since the 1950s - it is novel when compared to other problem-solving models. On the surface, CPS looks similar, but what is novel about CPS is this: CPS uses both divergent and convergent thinking at every stage of the process. Most other processes reserve the divergent thinking for the Generating Ideas stage, but use it nowhere else. CPS multiplies the power of divergent thinking by making it part of the entire process.

Thus, we have to confess that using CPS has an interesting side effect: it makes you re-think the way you thiink, and not just when you are solving problems.


First, let's consider problems and opportunities. CPS is a great choice if you want new thinking, new ideas, new solutions. It's a great choice if you find you are stuck, if you can't solve a certain problem (or problems), even if - especially if - you're not sure what the problem is. CPS is a great choice if you are missing opportunities, or if you want to take advantage of the opportunities before you.

Second, let's consider leadership. Creative thinking and innovative vision are core leadership competencies. CPS provides a structured way for leaders to harness creative thinking, to lead the way to breakthrough innovations, to envision desired future states, and to determine how to get there.


Here are some choices:

  • Go to the CPS overview.
  • Download some worksheets and toolsheets and dive in.
  • Ask a question or disucss your organization's needs by emailing OmniSkills.