03/17/2016 02:08 EDT | Updated 03/18/2017 05:12 EDT

A Creative Approach To Problem-Solving Sparks Innovation

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Innovation is the staple of entrepreneurship. It's what separates entrepreneurs from everyone else. Their drive comes from their desire to disrupt norms and to cause a stir within industries. The digital world in which we live is the product of incredible innovation on behalf of countless people around the world.

That phone in your pocket? Innovation. That preferred ride-sharing app? Innovation. Communication with anyone around the world? You guessed it -- innovation.

The trouble with innovation, though, is that it isn't easy. Creating the next big thing requires the stars to align. Hard work and luck are both parts of the equation, but there's another trait that makes innovation possible -- creativity. Creativity is the key to innovation, and it's what makes entrepreneur culture so enticing. Maintaining a creative approach isn't just fun, it can spark innovation in your mind as well. Here's why.

Creativity Means Collaboration Means Innovation

It's amazing what one creative mind can do. It's astounding what multiple creative minds can accomplish, though. When people come together and bounce ideas off one another, they naturally feel more creative, which brings out unique ideas from a variety of perspectives.

One of the primary aspects of innovation lies in collaboration, and collaboration is dramatically more productive when people embrace their creativity in a group. Think about how Gatorade was conceived. It was the result of creative collaboration between athletes, scientists and nutritionists to perfect the ideal sports performance drink.

The adage "great minds think alike" applies here -- creative people work together and create incredible projects. Entrepreneurs are surrounded by people who see things differently, and it makes innovation dramatically easier.

Creativity Brings Out Humanity

The entire purpose of innovation is to improve lives and make things easier on people en masse. In order to do so, creativity isn't just recommended; it's required. It doesn't matter what the solution to the problem is -- creativity is the key to innovation. Innovation is so intrinsically tied to humanity, and that's why creativity is the key. It brings out humanity within people and makes them want to help others.

Creativity inspires people to discover how creative they can be when taking a humanistic approach to problem solving. Some of the best inventions were born out of a need to simplify our lives, like how Uber has made it easy for commuters to call a car whenever they need one.

It's about taking an everyday problem and looking at it through a creative lens to find a viable solution. Change the way you approach a solution and you'll discover a world of opportunities.

Stagnancy Is The Enemy Of Innovation

What's the common theme so far? Action. Creative minds are constantly moving, and that's what triggers innovation. It's important to remember that stagnancy does nothing to solve problems; it allows them to grow and develop into bigger issues that take even more work to solve. It also creates a sense of complacency, and complacency is perhaps worse than stagnancy -- it means you don't care about innovation.

When your brain is moving you're driving innovation forward, but there are times when you'll hit a roadblock in your creative process. Try taking a stroll around the neighborhood or seek out an assignment that is outside of your comfort zone to keep your creative juices flowing.

Problems Become Puzzles

Creative individuals don't seem problems as problems; they see roadblocks as puzzles or obstacles that can be worked around. Approach your problem solving through a creative lens. Look for similar patterns or habits and routines in unrelated subjects to find unique solutions that most people wouldn't think of.

Instead of looking for a single big idea, try looking for smaller solutions that solve pieces of the big picture. Imagine you're solving a thousand-piece puzzle. You want to start small, maybe starting with the upper right corner and then working your way to the final picture.

At first glance, one piece might seem useless for the portion of the puzzle you're working on but if you flip that piece around you might notice it solves another section of your picture. There's always more than one way to solve a problem and it all begins with a little creative thinking.

Creative People Find Shortcuts To Solutions

When you solve a math problem, there's usually a linear process that will lead you to the final solution. But creative people don't think in a linear fashion -- they actively find new approaches and angles to all problems. As such, they can find easier shortcuts or "hacks" that allow them to skip steps on the way to a solution.

Bill Gates said it best when it comes to creative people: "I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because he will find an easy way to do it."

Creative thinkers will find ways to get the job done quickly but efficiently, taking short cuts that others might not even think to take. It's having the ability to connect points "A" and "C" together without needing to pass step point "B" to get there.

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