Commitment is essentially stereotyp-
ing based on past experiences. We assume
that the current project is like prior proj-
ects, or we assume that our customers
have similar priorities. 2 Once we become
committed to a solution, definition, or
certain point of view it is likely that we
will follow through on that commitment.
To overcome this block we should not al-
ways view current problems as variations
of past situations so we resort to using
similar solutions that have been success-
ful in the past. 1
So there you go—four obstacles that
can get in the way of your creative problem solving skills. What can you do to
overcome these four conceptual blocks?
First, reduce stress that you might be experiencing and put yourself in a positive
mood. I know, easier said than done, but
it is very difficult to do creative problem
solving under stress. Second, accept and
be patient with wild ideas. This should
not be difficult for you because working in healthcare management today is
a wild experience many days out of the
year. Generating and considering wild
ideas can seem like a waste of time; however, it’s often a route to an ingenious
solution. Third, play around with the
problem definition. State the problem as
you see it and then try to see it in other
ways. Use odd analogies for the problem.
Fourth, produce many possible solutions
without regard to practicality. After listing many solutions, try combining and
modifying the solutions on the list. After
listing the solutions you may need to
take a break and let your ideas incubate
for a few hours or even a few days. 2 Too
many times we focus on coming up with
the perfect answer. There can be more
than one right answer to a particular
Conceptual blocks can’t be overcome
overnight because most blocks are a
result of years of habit forming thought
processes. I have given you a brief overview of what conceptual blocks are and
some suggestions to overcoming their
existence. If you want to learn more
about these problem solving inhibitors feel free to do more reading. In the
meantime, what are you waiting for?
Get started on doing some conceptual
And remember, when we get involved
in an unfamiliar issue or situation, we
always have each other to collaborate
with. We are all in this profession together and there is nothing wrong with leaning on each other when problem solving.
That is one of the many reasons that
makes AHRA a great association!
1Whetten D, Cameron K. “Developing Man-
agement Skills.” Second Edition. New York,
NY: Harper-Collins; 1991.
2Soin R. Creative Problem Solving. Wright State
University College of Business. Available at:
LeaderLetter/ cps.htm. Accessed February 4,
Jim Lipcamon is the outpatient imaging services
manager at East Cooper Medical Center in Mt. Pleasant,
SC and is editor-in-chief of Radiology Management.
He holds a bachelor of science degree in healthcare
management from Bellevue University. Jim may be
reached at James.Lipcamon@tenethealth.com.