Concept Garden - Cranston Engineering
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Concept Garden


Problem Solving Webinars


These webinars are based on a framework for creative problem-solving that has been developed over a period of 20 years. The framework is based around a gardening analogy (called The Concept Garden – for details see below) to help the users to remember what the tools are and where they are most effective.

Participants in the webinars are introduced to the Concept Garden Framework, some important concepts, and thinking tools and techniques that help to ensure that effective solutions are brought to the stage of implementation.



Outcome: Participants will learn the main elements of creative problem-solving and gain working experience of key tools. After the webinars, participants will be able to analyse a problem, identify possible solutions and build these into detailed concepts which can be brought forward as proposed projects.

Webinars: There are 12 Webinars each of around 10 to 15 minutes duration. There is a recommended order on the training platform, but it is not critical that they are completed in that order. Ideally, the user should take

Format: The training consists of a series of pre-recorded Webinars, each with a duration of 10 to 15 minutes. Ten of the Webinars cover individual tools, one covers the Concept Garden Framework, and one covers Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats concept. Handouts for each tool are provided on the training platform and a full text “manual” will be given in pdf format at the end of the workshop.

Questions and Follow-up: If there are any questions comments or challenges on the Webinars, Billy can be contacted at

Problem Solving Steps



When gardening we need to prepare the ground. Similarly, with problem solving we need to prepare before we start trying to generate solution ideas. We need to understand the problem, why we want to solve it and what the solution has to deliver. The Concept Garden give us a set of tools that support us in doing this preparation work.


In the garden, if we want to grow something, we need to plant some seeds. Similarly, in problem solving, we need to find some initial ideas that we can grow into solutions. When we plant seeds in the garden, we will usually plant many more than we will need and it is the same in problem solving. We need to generate many more ideas than we will need. The Concept Garden gives us some ideation tools that will help us to come up with a lot of ideas.


Because we have planted more seeds than we will need, once they start growing, we will need to “thin-out” the plants to give the remainder room to grow. With problem solving we need to remove the weakest ideas so that we can focus on the strongest – the ones most likely to lead to a viable solution. Like in gardening, this is done in stages. As the plants or ideas grow, we need to carry out more thinning. The Concept Garden provides tools that allow us to do this thinning in a systematic, progressive manner.


Once the plants have started to grow, we cannot just leave them to get on with it. There are many challenges that they will face, and we must support them in growing by weeding, watering and possibly pruning. Similarly, with problem solving, we need to nurture and look after our ideas as we try to grow them into concepts for a solution. The Concept Garden provides tools to help us to do this, gradually introducing stronger challenge and more detail, so that the idea becomes stronger and more likely to give a long-term solution to the problem.


Once the plants have grown and are able to provide us with what we need (fruit, vegetables, flowers etc.) we need to harvest them and present them in such a way that other people will want to have them. The same applies to problem solving. It doesn’t matter how strong the solution concept is, if we cannot persuade other people that it should be

implemented, then it will not solve our problem. The Concept Garden has tools that help us to record and present the solution concepts in a way that will make it easier for us to present them to other people.

Your Trainer Dr Billy Grierson

Billy spent more than 30 years in the chemical industry, working globally for Ciba and BASF, amongst others. During this time, he developed an understanding of how companies fail to solve problems and what tools and techniques can be used to improve their success rate in innovation and new product development.

These tools have been applied successfully across a wide range of industries (Chemical, Engineering, Water Treatment, Construction, Electronics, Oil and Gas). He is now a freelance consultant in problem-solving, decision-making and innovation, making these tools and techniques available to an even wider range of companies and industries using his expertise in the facilitation and development of creativity and innovation in groups and individuals.

He is a PMP accredited, experienced project manager. blending his innovation skills with traditional project management to produce techniques that allow not only the generation of solutions to business problems but also the development of viable plans for implementation of those ideas.

Using skills and techniques learned and homed in his 20+ years in industry, he has developed this creative problem-solving training course. The course is based on a model (called The Concept Garden) for creative problem-solving and decision making. The model uses a gardening analogy to set the individual tools into context. It introduces tools for preparation (understanding the problem and the business context), planting seeds (generating and developing ideas for potential action), thinning (selecting the ideas or options that are most useful), growing (developing the ideas/options into concepts for final solutions) and harvesting (preparing the concepts for implementation of a solution or decision).

Billy lives in Perth, Scotland. As a diversion from work Billy is a keen birdwatcher and of course gardener!

Find out more about the Concept Garden