When it comes down to it, our job – and our personal life – require constant problem solving. You solve problems all day everyday without even realizing it. “I’m hungry. Better get some Cap’n Crunch.” Problem: solved. But when it comes to finding solutions to complex problems at work, sometimes we can get overwhelmed or lost in the process.

Here are ten TED talks to help you look at problem solving from a new perspective and come up with innovative and unique solutions:

1. Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast – Tom Wujec


When you’re faced with a complex problem, sometimes it’s helpful to break your problem down to its most simple elements. Tom Wujec takes you through a design exercise that helps you understand how we collaborate and make sense of things.

2. Play this game to come up with original ideas – Shimpei Takahashi


We can sometimes get so wrapped in the data that all creativity gets sucked out of the room. While we love us some data, there’s a time when you need to step away from the data and let your brains be free. Shimpei Takahashi has a simple exercise that will help you make random connections and come up with lots of new ideas. Sure, they’re not all going to be genius ideas, but it’s up to you to find which ideas are closest to the mark.

3. Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits – Navi Radjou


While many of Navi Radjou’s examples apply directly to third-world countries where they have limited resources, we can use his principles to find clever solutions to problems regardless of the resources available to us. It’s all about tapping into our human ingenuity and learning to do more with less.

4. The power of believing you can improve – Carol Dweck


Sometimes finding the solution to a problem is all about having the right mindset. If you don’t believe you have the ability to grow and solve problems, you probably won’t grow or solve or solve problems. Pretty straightforward, right? But Carol Dweck talks about how having a growth mindset can help us become more engaged and teach us how to process errors, learn from them, and correct them.

5. What do we do with all of this big data? – Susan Etlinger


There’s a lot of data out there, and in order to find meaning from it, we need to deepen our critical thinking skills. We need to ask hard questions and pay attention to how we think so the data doesn’t swallow us up. We are not passive consumers of data and technology. We can shape the role it plays in our lives and the way we make meaning from it.

6. Want to innovate? How to be a “now-ist” – Joi Ito


The Internet has made innovation way simpler and less expensive. And now that innovation can happen so quickly, you can build out your idea and make improvements before you’ve even had time to ask for permission. Joi Ito’s advice is to “deploy or die.” You can solve problems and create innovative products by taking action, staying connected, always learning, and being present.

7. Why truly innovative science demands a leap into the unknown – Uri Alon


As marketers, we have to act like scientists a lot of the time. We study all of our market research and data and then create tests and iterations based on our research only to find that our experiments don’t give us the answers we expected. Uri Alon helps us appreciate the journey to solutions and find ways to be creative in the process.

8. How to make stress your friend – Kelly McGonigal


Our jobs can be stressful. We have crazy deadlines, huge projects, and complex problems to solve. The thing is, stress isn’t going to go away. But if we change our attitude about stress and view it as a positive thing, we’ll reduce our amount of stress. Weird, huh? And once you’ve reduced your stress level, you’ll be much more productive.

9. Embrace the near win – Sarah Lewis


Not everything we do is going to be a masterpiece. While this realization is a little disappointing, it gives us the push we need to move forward and improve in our craft. Don’t let your almost-failure or near-win keep you from working toward your goals and pursuits.

10. What I discovered in New York City trash – Robin Nagle


You probably don’t need another reason to watch this TED talk beyond the title, Robin Nagle shows what lengths she was willing to go in order to answer the simple question: who cleans up after us? As we try to solve problems and get answers to complex questions, sometimes we have to get our hands dirty and go straight to the source.

There are millions of different ways to approach problems, but we usually go about it the same way every time. So the next time you jump into a brainstorming session, come with a few more ideas to encourage collaboration and deep thinking. These TED talks should give you the tools you need to change the way you think and improve your problem-solving skills.

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Cari Thompson

Posted by Cari Thompson

Cari Thompson is a copywriter, online marketer, and blogger. She studied marketing and advertising and - drum roll, please - music at Brigham Young University. Cari started in traditional advertising as a media buyer then transitioned into the online world through buzz marketing, blogging, and copywriting. Her three greatest accomplishments include beating Super Mario 3 in one night without a whistle, drumming for tens of people, and licking an ice sculpture at the Versace Mansion.