University of Technology Sydney

21854 Creative Problem Solving

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Business: Management
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject provides students with an understanding of how organizations respond to problems, disruptions and opportunities. The subject introduces students to various ways of identifying, clarifying and analyzing problems using tools and techniques recognized in the industry. Possible solutions are explored through creative processes framed around the advantages of using both divergent and convergent thinking. Implementation methods will be framed around change management strategies and the intention to generate lasting positive impact. This subject provides students with foundation skills on how change, across inter- and intra- organizational operations, can be managed, including problem and opportunity identification, creative solution development, and the considerations necessary so as to generate maximum, positive impact.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
1. analyse problems, disruptions, and opportunities for change and improvement
2. evaluate creativity and creative problem solving in the contemporary business environment
3. assess and apply appropriate tools, methods, and frameworks to generate possible solutions
4. make judgments and provide an appropriate technically feasible and economically viable implementation plan for the proposed solution

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

This subject develops the graduate attributes of intellectual rigour and innovative problem solving, and communication and collaboration. Teaching and learning activities introduce students to a range of processes, tool, methods and techniques used in practice to create effective solutions to problems, disruptions and opportunities. The subject assessments are based on applying the learnings to real-world situations and ask students to identify problems, disruptions and opportunities and develop creative solutions and recommend implementation plans. As such, the subject is also aligned with the graduate attribute of professional and technical competence.

This subject also contributes to the development of the following program learning objectives for the Master of Management, Master of Human Resource Management, Master of Event Management, Master of Sport Management, and Master of Not-for-Profit and Social Enterprise Management courses:

  • Apply critical thinking and advanced analytical skills to develop creative solutions that respond to community, Indigenous and business needs within a specialised management context (1.1)
  • Interact with colleagues and stakeholders to work effectively in teams and deliver agreed project outcomes (2.2)

Teaching and learning strategies

The teaching and learning strategies used in this subject promote the development and use of different approaches such as analytical, critical and creative thinking. The teaching and learning strategies are designed to enable students to make progress in their achievement and maximise their accomplishment of the learning outcomes. Students engage in the essential content through lectures, seminar-style discussions, case studies, group work and student-led dialogue through face-to-face and online collaboration.

Students are expected to complete all allocated activities and readings, which will be available on the learning management system for each lesson before attending class. Completing activities and readings before class allows for in-class time to be spent on collaborative discussions that address interesting and challenging aspects of the material, and enable students to be creative in their approach to identifying and creating possible solutions to problems, disruptions and opportunities.

Formative feedback exercises used during tutorials prepare and assist students with assessments. For example, students will be required to share and explain the tools and methods used to analyse problems and create solutions. The exercises aim to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work. The practice case study exercises help tutors recognise where students are struggling and address problems immediately through individual and collective class feedback.

Summative feedback provided to students for formally composed submissions such as the individual case study assessment (Task 1). The goal of the summative feedback is to evaluate student learning by comparing it against the prescribed assessment criteria.

Content (topics)

  • Problem solving, disruption and opportunity assessment
  • Critical thinking and analysis skills
  • Analytical tools
  • Creativity and creative processes and creativity tools
  • Managing customer-centric models of business innovation
  • Developing Innovative Solutions
  • Evaluating and communicating creative solutions
  • Implementation options and decision making


Assessment task 1: Problem Analysis Project (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):


Weight: 40%

Maximum 1200 words

Submit a PDF copy of your poster on (or before) the due date.

  • Extent, depth, and relevance of research undertaken
  • Clear articulation of the problem or opportunity statement
  • Structure and readability
  • Effective referencing

Assessment task 2: Collaborative Project (Group)*


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 3 and 4

Weight: 30%

10-minute presentation

Submit the video recording of your team presentations to Canvas.

  • Identification of problem and/or opportunity in business
  • Effective application and justification of the creative tool/s (using visualisation)
  • Generation of alternative solutions with clear links to the problem
  • Assessment of the feasibility and viability of the possible solutions
  • Clarity of implementation plan

*Note: Late submission of the assessment task will not be marked and awarded a mark of zero.

Assessment task 3: Reflective review (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):


Weight: 30%

1200 words (+/-10%). Word count excludes references, images/tables/plans/photos/sketches etc. and appendices.

Submit your WORD document to Canvas.

  • Understanding of key concepts covered in this subject
  • Synthesis of relevant literature
  • Evidence of critical reflection
  • Structure and readability
  • Effective referencing

Minimum requirements

Students must achieve at least 50% of the subject’s total marks.

Required texts

There are pre-learning readings or other materials for each week. These are set out in the Weekly Schedule and links to the materials are also provided in the module folder for each week on Canvas. This subject relies on pre-class preparation and in-class participation. These readings are compulsory and essential for lectures and tutorials.

Recommended texts

Whilst there is no specific text required for this subject, the following references will provide you with valuable information that will assist with your pre-learning and assessments:

Harms, M., Reiter-Palmon, R., & Derrick, D. C. (2020). The role of information search in creative problem solving. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 14(3), 367.

Matthews, J. (2018). Visual tools for problem framing and problem solving. Visual tools for developing cross-disciplinary collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship capacity, 45-60.

Montag-Smit, & Maertz, C. P. (2017). Searching outside the box in creative problem solving: The role of creative thinking skills and domain knowledge. Journal of Business Research, 81, 1–10.

Puccio, Burnett, C., Acar, S., Yudess, J. A., Holinger, M., & Cabra, J. F. (2020). Creative Problem Solving in Small Groups: The Effects of Creativity Training on Idea Generation, Solution Creativity, and Leadership Effectiveness. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 54(2), 453–471.

Tracy. (2015). Creativity and problem solving (1st edition). American Management Association.


Academic journals (a selection only)

  • Journal of Business Research
  • Academy of Management Journal
  • Strategic Management Journal
  • Journal of Management
  • The Journal of Creative Behavior
  • Journal of Operations Management
  • Management Science
  • Operations Research
  • Production and Operations Management
  • See ABDC journal website to see journal ranking A*, A, B or C

Trade Journals (accessible via UTS Library)

  • The Economist
  • Harvard Business Review (HBR)
  • Forbes Magazine

Study Guides provide helpful Library resources for different disciplines of study, as well as some individual subjects. Access Study Guides here. Here are two guides specialised in Management: