The science magazine has published as essay on the psychological profile of minds which are good at problem finding and applying tools and ideas from other disciplines. The profile is based on the research of two psychologists, Jacob W. Getzels and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
They were open to reformulating problems as they experimented with different perspectives. They were slow to judge their work as absolutely finished, and they were able to evaluate critically the probability that improvements were achievable.
The essay has been written from the perspective of clinical research but the traits are expected to be similar for other areas. One characteristic is the ability to think outside the box and be open minded at looking at a different area which might not give immediate results:
The critical moment occurs when a clinician can think across disciplines about how a cellular process may be active in many different diseases….Further, that conceptual marriage is meaningless unless the thinker is able to see and appreciate the significance of the problem. To achieve proof of concept requires emotional and professional investment in the idea, institutional or collegial support, funding, commitment of time and energy, and the willingness to tolerate the risk of failure.
The essay also advises on how to build up a problem finding and multidisciplinary mindset. One suggestion is to be open to a solution which one has been ignoring or even denying due to a predisposed mindset. Another is to recognize solutions which we encounter and match them to problems. Lastly there is a suggestion to resist premature closure of the process of exploration and reformulate the problem. And most importantly, stay curious!