University of Technology Sydney

21854 Problem Solving, Creativity and Solution Setting

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 2021 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. Evaluate inter- and intra- organizational business operations and identify problems, disruptions, and opportunities for change and improvement
2. Assess various tools, methods and frameworks to think creatively about possible solutions
3. Critique and evaluate the value of mimetic (bounded) norms versus non-mimetic and disruptive actions in the practice of business
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 critical thinking, creativity and analytical thinking. Teaching and learning activities will 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.

The subject contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

  • Critical thinking, creativity and analytical skills
  • Business practice-oriented skills

This subject also contributes to the development of following program learning objective(s) for the Masters in Management courses:

  • Apply critical thinking skills to formulate options and justify inventive solutions to inform decision making that responds to organisational, Indigenous and professional needs. (2.1)

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: Project Presentation (Group)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1 and 2

Weight: 30%

It is expected that you will provide a 3,000 work report which addressed each of the scenerios (1,000 per scenario.

It is also expected that you will also use some visualisation, showing your analysis or highlighting where the problem, disruption or opportunity is eg cause and effect diagram, process map, swim lane diagram, value chain map, customer journey map or other that will support your analysis.

  • Identification of problem, disruption and /or opportunity in the context of business change
  • Selection of appropriate analytical tool, method or approach for the identified problem, disruption or opportunity
  • Correct application of the analytical, creative tool, method or approach

Assessment task 2: Project (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3 and 4

Weight: 50%

4,000 word (excluding references)

  • Identification of problem, disruption and/or opportunity in the context of business change
  • Explanation and demonstration of the rationale for tool selection and its application
  • Feasibility and viability analysis of the possible options/solutions
  • Convincing justification of the recommended implementation plan
  • Clarity of implementation plan and implications for business managers and staff

Assessment task 3: Critical Reflection (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

3 and 4

Weight: 20%

1,000 words

  • Quality of expression and effective use of generic conventions for a written reflective essay
  • Clarity around the definition of creativity in the context of business problem identification and solutions
  • Convincing arguments linking the creative process to different elements of the developed solutions
  • Convincing justification for why the recommended solution and implementation plan is selected

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

In addition to the readings provided, there are four further recommended texts – each has a different and complementary focus. There are links to the library holdings and/or e-resources on Canvas.

Tracey, B (2015), Creativity and Problem Solving, American Management Association,

Puccio, G et, al (2018) ‘Creative problem solving in small groups: The effects of creativity training on idea generation, solution creativity and leadership effectiveness’ The Journal of Creative Behaviour pp1-19

Montag-Smit, T et al (2017) ‘Searching outside the box in creative problem solving: The role of creative thinking and domain knowledge’ Journal of Business Research vol. 81 pp.1-10

Matthews, Judy H. (2018) Visual tools for problem framing and problem solving. In Griffith,, Selena, Carrathers, Kate, & Bliemel, Martin (Eds.) Visual Tools for Developing Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Capacity. Common Ground Research Networks, Champaign, IL, pp. 45-60.

Harms et al (in press) ‘The role of information search in creative problem solving’ Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts


Specialised journals (a selection only)

  • Journal of Operations Management
  • Management Science
  • Operations Research
  • Production and Operations Management
  • International Journal of Production Research
  • International Journal of Production Economics
  • European Journal of Operational
  • Reseach Computers and Operations Research
  • See ABDC journal wesbite to see journal ranking A*, A, B or C