Your GPS already does Creative Problem Solving… and you?

by Mónica De Salazar

Today, a lot of people uses GPS apps on their mobile phones to get to places. It’s easy to follow, it usually shows you routes and how traffic is in every option, tells you where to turn and even if you lose track of a certain turn, it re-routes and gives you a new option.

The logic within a navigation system has certain similarities with the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) and its stages, and it will help us to explain part of what’s inside the Creativity Certificate. Pretty much you can become a GPS System but for all sorts of challenges.

First things first; you need to introduce the address or place where you wish to go. It is very difficult (not to say impossible) to use a GPS system if you don’t know where you wish to go. Being creative on this, if you don’t know the exact place where you’re going, at least you might need to introduce a reference so it can take you there, and from that point you might need to find the way yourself. Being say this, you always need a direction first. In CPS, this is the Clarification stage. We are assuming that when you turn on your GPS you have already gone through the Evaluation of the Situation stage, and you know what is happening in your life or day so that you decided to jump into your car.

The thing about Clarification is that you have already envisioned the place where you wish to go, but you might be overlooking possible traffic issues as blocks, deviations and more, which can become challenges at the moment you’re in route.

Once the address is set the GPS system moves into its version of the Ideation stage, that in this case is looking at the map and finding possibilities of routes to follow. The system certainly does not brainstorm on options, but it does connect the available streets and highways to see how they match best. Then it gives you straightforward routes that might be slow, gives you routes through tolls that you will need to pay, options of longer routes but with less traffic.

Then comes the Implementation stage, were the route is marked in a color and you have a general plan on how to get from point A to point B, as well as a Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). This is similar to what happens when we are planning for a prototype, since we have a general vision of how it might function if all the conditions are helpful but of course, you can never have a perfect plan because things and new challenges might appear on the way. After introducing the address or direction you wish to go, getting the best available route and seeing the panoramic view of it, you’re ready to roll. Happens with GPS and with challenges to be addressed through a CPS process; getting the route and where the turns are doesn’t mean you are already there. This is the reason why Implementation is so important, along with Stakeholder Analysis, flexibility to re-route and find new options if needed, but never forgetting what the vision is, what the desired destination is…

It is curious how a system can have a similar logical configuration to how CPS works. Of course there are big differences from this to how a complete CPS process works, what the results can be and the approach, but a navigation system is an interesting example of how were are close to this logic process everyday and the good results it gives us most of the time. Now, how would you like to be more of a GPS System when a challenge appears for your company, team, organization, family or for yourself… always being able to envision where you want to go, finding always viable options to go there nd being able to make plans with the exact twists and turns to get you there even if something comes up along the way? This is what CPS is all about, getting you where you wish to be and even further.