Creative problem-solving usually begins by defining the problem. This may lead to a simple non-creative solution or finding a textbook solution. The process may also lead to the discovery of prior solutions developed by other individuals. In such cases, the process may then be abandoned if the discovered solution is sufficient. Typically, a creative solution will have distinct characteristics that include using only existing components or the problematic factor as the basis for the solution, or involving a change of perspective. A solution may also be considered creative if readily available components can be used to solve the problem within a short time limit factors typical to the solutions employed in MacGyver by the title character.
If a creative solution has broad use—that is, uses beyond its original intent—it may be referred to as an innovative solution, or an innovation. This term is also used to refer to the process of creating innovative solutions. Some innovations may also be considered as an invention.
"All innovations [begin] as creative solutions, but not all creative solutions become innovations."
Creative problem-solving techniques can be categorized as follows:
Mental state shift and cognitive re-framing: Changing one’s focus away from active problem-solving and replacing it with a creative solution set.
Multiple idea facilitation: Designed to increase the quantity of fresh ideas based on the belief that a greater number of ideas increases the chances for one that is valuable. For example, randomly selecting an idea (such as choosing a word from a list) and thinking about its similarities to the undesirable situation. In turn, this random act may inspire a related idea that would lead to a solution.
Inducing change of perspective: Designed to efficiently lead to a fresh perspective resulting in a solution that becomes obvious. This is especially useful for solving especially challenging problems. Many of these techniques involve identifying independent dimensions that differentiate closely associated concepts.  Differentiating concepts can then potentially overcome the instinctive tendency to use oversimplified associative thinking in which two related concepts are so closely associated their differences are overlooked.