Fostering systematic innovative thinking and problem solving: Lessons education can learn from industry

Moshe Barak, Nitzan Goffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This article aims to illuminate different means of nurturing creativity in the high-tech industry and in modern organizations, particularly in the context of problem solving and product development, and to examine the potential implications for technology education. There is a large gap between conventional wisdom, which maintains that technology education is intended to foster creative thinking among pupils, and reality in the field. The case study presented is that of a mid-sized Israeli industrial plant, dealing with the design and production of construction tools for professionals and domestic use, such as spirit levels, measuring tapes, squares and rulers. This plant utilized innovation, uniqueness and quality as the main instruments in the battle for the market. A series of workshops for the plant's staff, entitled 'Systematic Inventive Thinking', resulted in the development of a range of new, original and successful products. The cumulative experience indicated that people can learn efficient techniques for solving a problem, or developing a new product, by breaking it down to its basic components, by 'playing' systematically with ideas, in order to achieve new results. The notion that methodical courses can trigger pupils' incentive to be innovative and original, and can foster teamwork is almost absent from the field of education. Educators and scholars in technology education pay little regard to teaching and exploiting methods to fostering systematic original thinking and problem-solving. The challenge in education is to find an optimal combination and balance between fostering activity based on openness and 'disorder', on the one hand, and imparting systematic methods for innovative thinking and problem-solving, on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-247
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Design Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 23 Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Problem solving


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