Think Like a Detective and Solve Your Problems More Creatively

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To me an idea often resembles a huge puzzle picture. At a first glance, it may appear whole and perfect, but when you take a closer look you will discover that it consists of small parts some of which are sometimes missing.

Photo by Walt Jabsco. Please visit Walt Jabsco' photostream. Thank you.

Those missing parts of the puzzle may sometimes be pieces of information, steps in the project execution which are not yet defined or small problems or issues that need further creative thinking.

Filling the gaps that keep us away from our ultimate goal can be tiresome and frustrating so many individuals lose patience along the way and many brilliant ideas never see the light of the day.

Instead of feeling discouraged, I suggest you take a look at your creative problem from another point of view. Think of your problem as a detective story, a murder mystery with many missing parts that you have to put together. Remember reading the stories or watching films about famous detectives like Hercules Poaro or Sherlock Holmes and the complicated murder cases that they always managed to solve. What is typical of them is that they did not have complicated technology to rely on, they simply used their own analytical and creative thinking when putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

So maybe if we adopt their way of thinking, we will be able to overcome the obstacles that we sometimes encounter in our creative thinking process. Let us take a look at how detectives think and what techniques they use in unravelling the truth.


Observation is the important part of learning process. Observation and repetition are the easiest ways of learning new things. Even animals learn through observation. However, we have to distinguish between looking at things and observing the things because most of the times we look but rarely do we bother to observe the world around us. Looking at things involves turning your eyes in some direction in order to see somebody or something. Observing means to watch and perceive something with attention and aim to analyze and learn about something. You need to take your time and pay particular attention to small details which are normally overlooked. In our everyday thinking we often tend to make assumptions based on obvious things which in the end lead us to obvious conclusions so we miss important insights that could influence our thinking and inspire us to think of new and unique ideas.

Use of logic

At the beginning of a creative process you will naturally need lots of information upon which you will later build your creative thinking. Sometimes it is easy to get the information you need, but sometimes you will have to search hard for the data in order to get the full picture of the subject that you are dealing with. So what happens when for some reason certain information is not available to you? In this case you should rely on your own knowledge and experience and search for logical answers to your questions. During this process you should dispose of the uncertain, unlikely and, of course, illogical, and try and discover the most probable answers.

Use of intuition

If logic does not help, you should rely on something more transcendental - your intuition. You have probably experienced many times that gut feeling in your stomach that warns you that something is not right, or the butterflies in the stomach which announce that something exciting is about to happen. How many times have you met a person that you just did not like for some unexplainable reason and you felt uncomfortable around him/her although he/she seemed perfectly nice and normal? Sometimes you simply know that something is so and if this feeling is too intense, than it should certainly be taken into consideration.


Curiosity is the major characteristic of all creative minds. It manifests through constant need to ask questions and look for answers. It drives people to discover and learn new things throughout their entire life. To be able to use curiosity to its full extent, you need to learn how to ask right questions. So use your logic and intuition, focus on the information you have gathered through research and observation and ask clever and relevant questions.

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If you wish to further explore this topic, you can check out the selection of my favourite books about creative thinking.

Key words for this blog post:
creative thinking, problem solving, think like a detective, observation, logic, intuition, curiosity, creative thinking technique...

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