Building Your Creative Practice

Nora Guerrera
4 min readMar 15, 2024

How to build a strong creative base to call upon in times of stress.

This is Part 5 of our 5-part series on Creative Problem-Solving from graphic designer, brand strategist, and innovation consultant turned EMT, Andrew Lebowitz.

Welcome to the fifth and final installment in the Creative Problem-Solving Under Stress series. In this final article, we are going to pull everything together to discuss how you can build a foundation for your creative practice.

Cognitive Flexibility + Applied Learning = Creative Problem-Solving

Build a Foundation for Your Creative Practice

To build a creative problem-solving foundation you can rely on in times of stress, do the following four things:

1. Identify your strengths

Like any journey, it’s important to take stock of what you have and what you don’t. Take some time to assess your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.

  • What are you good at?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What do you want to get better at?
  • What don’t you want to do?

It is rare, if not impossible, to turn a weakness into a strength. It is, however, possible to continue to grow where we are strong. Manage your weaknesses and build upon your strengths.

2. Leverage Frameworks

Good frameworks provide enough structure to give guidance and direction while allowing flexibility to adapt to different situations. Below are a few frameworks I have used over my career and in my personal practice.

Design Council Design Thinking Double Diamond

The Double Diamond is a classic in Design Thinking circles. It draws from the Divergent / Convergent modes of thinking and creating (hence the diamond shapes).

IDEO Design Thinking Framework

IDEO is a powerhouse in the design thinking world and has done much to advocate for, and teach design thinking. Their model is similar to the double diamond but I personally like the use of Inspiration at the beginning of the creative process.

Universal Traveler Creative Framework

This framework is from the 1970 book The Universal Traveler by Jim Bagnall and Don Koberg. It has been immensely powerful, especially as I have entered the emergency medicine world.

  1. Accept the situation
  2. Analyze
  3. Define
  4. Ideate
  5. Select [appropriate methods]
  6. Implement
  7. Evaluate

3. Practice

Ultimately, creativity is a habit. It is something that one must do intentionally over and over again before it becomes a part of them. It has to reach the level of the subconscious, where it becomes an aspect of yourself that you can call on at any time.

Practice basic skills in isolation or use the full frameworks on projects, then ramp up the stress. Keep note of what works for you and what doesn’t. There’s no use in trying to make things work if they don’t.

4. Have fun

Stress is a natural creativity killer, and most people become less, not more, creative under extreme stress. As you practice, try to make it playful and fun so that as you enter a creative mindset, there is more inherent freedom and flexibility.

This will come in handy during times of duress because you will default towards the mindset you practice with.

Creativity is a matter of survival.

Creativity is a matter of survival, bred into our evolution from our time in the wild, drenched with the sweat and blood of our ancestors. Those who survived and thrived were the best creative problem solvers of their time. The same holds true today.

If you are interested in discussing or developing your creative problem-solving skills further, Andrew is available for training, coaching, and consulting for individuals and teams. You can message him directly here:


Related Resources and References

Previous posts in this 5-part series on creative problem-solving:

Andrew is a graphic designer, brand strategist, and innovation consultant turned EMT. Now, he is applying his own creativity to help those in their moments of greatest need.



Nora Guerrera

Strategist, Leader, Coach, Teacher. I help clients explore, create and use digital to bring game-changing experiences to their businesses and their customers.