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Why creative problem-solvers are so darn good at what they do

Posted by Deb Muoio

Mar 6, 2015 12:47:00 PM

You’re walking down an aisle in the grocery store and come across the following products. Which one(s) creative_problem_solverswould you be willing to buy?

  • Bottled water specifically designed for pets, in beef or fish flavor
  • Celery flavored Jell-O
  • A breakfast soft drink designed to be an alternative to coffee
  • A lasagne sandwich: Essentially, two slices of bread, with lasagna in the middle
  • Chocolate-flavored French fries

If the thought of consuming any of these products makes you queasy, you’re not alone. If the question, “What were they thinking?” and “What kind of creative people do they have on their product development team?” also crossed your mind, again, you’re not alone. These are just five examples of products that were introduced to consumers with much fanfare (i.e. LOTS of money was spent on advertising) only to be pulled from the shelves soon after.


With creativity and innovation comes risk. You can do all the research and product testing your resources can buy – it won’t guarantee that a product will fly off the shelves.

The next “logical” conclusion might be to dump any off-the-wall people on your product development team and use more practical, rational thinkers.

Not a good idea. Here’s why: Creative problem-solvers (good ones, that is) are very different from non-creative problem-solvers in one very crucial way: Their mindset, attitude, and approach to problem-solving is conducive to success. To put it simply, they have a winning system.

According to data we collected for our Creativity and Problem-Solving Aptitude Test, strong creative problem-solvers are more likely to have better performance ratings than non-creative problem-solvers.


Here’s what makes creative problem-solvers so successful:

  • 65% will come up with multiple possible solutions to a problem instead of just one (compared to 12% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 77% recognize and accept that innovation requires the willingness to take chances (compared to 16% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  •  96% don’t allow the fear of making a mistake or a fear of failure to affect their decisions (compared to 5% for non-creative problem-solvers).

  • 96% think “outside the box” (compared to 44% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 97% listen to and trust their intuition (compared to 50% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 97% embrace change and understand that it is essential to progress (compared to 11% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 98% have complete faith in themselves and in their abilities (compared to 45% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  •  99% look at a problem from different angles in order to come up with the best solution (compared to 64% for non-creative problem-solvers).


Here’s how creative problem-solvers and non-creative problem-solvers differ:

  • 63% prefer to work with other creative people; 30% prefer to work with a mix of creative and practical people (compared to 13% and 32% respectively, for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 73% are comfortable making decisions based only on a “gut feeling” (compared to 51% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 84% want to be able to approach a work project in their own way, and don’t need to be given detailed instructions (compared to 49% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 90% think that problem-solving should be fun, not serious (compared to 23% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 93% are not afraid to ask others for ideas or for help (compared to 26% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 99% enjoy trying new things (compared to 56% for non-creative problem-solvers).
  • 100% enjoy learning new things (compared to 79% for non-creative problem-solvers).


And just for added measure:


Job performance ratings

Creative problem-solvers

Non-creative problem-solvers

Below average






Above average




Aside from using personality assessments to screen for creative problem-solving ability, asking the following interview questions could offer deeper insight into a job candidate’s typical problem-solving approach:

  • What do you normally do when faced with a problem at work that you have never tackled before? Walk me through your problem-solving process.
  • What was the last novel idea/product/procedure you came up with?
  • Describe a problem or project you had to deal with that required a unique approach.


If you’re interested in using CAPSAT (Creativity and Problem-Solving Aptitude Test) or other tests for HR purposes, request a free trial for ARCH Profile here.

Want to learn more about using psychological tests for hiring, leadership development, career development or talent retention? Download our free eBook loaded with down-to-earth information about psychological testing for HR purposes. 

Ready for a test drive of ARCH Profile, the delivery system for PsychTests’ assessments? All you need to do is ask!

Request your free trial of ARCH Profile!

Topics: Transferrable Skills, Employee Development, Problem-solving, Training, Change Management, Competencies

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