Unleash It! While there is no shortage of challenges facing the world today, countless ideas never come to the surface — leaving problems unsolved and opportunities missed — simply because no one stopped to consider them. Unleash It! uncovers these challenges — then links them to enterprising problem-solvers.
Like to try a more "creative" approach to solving your problem or finding a great solution? Here are 12 Top Tips to "Solve It NOW!" and get you started on the road to innovation.
1. BE OPTIMISTIC
The more you believe you can solve your problem, the more you'll keep at it. Know that it may take some time, but eventually you'll discover one or more solutions — maybe even some extraordinary ones.
2. BE CLEAR
Never try to solve a problem before you know what it is: Write down your problem in the form of a clear, precise question and you're halfway to the answer. Then again: Always pose your question at least two very different ways. For example …
3. ASK, "WHAT'S THE 'OPPOSITE' OF MY QUESTION?"
Remember Tom Sawyer and the fence that needed painting? Instead of asking, "How can I do this work?" he asked: "How can someone else do all this fun?"
4. QUESTION YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
Make a list of everything about your situation that you know to be true — no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Now go back and question every assumption you've made. "Is that really so? Does it have to be that way? How could it be done some other way?"
5. PRACTICE BLUE-SKY THINKING
Allow yourself to look for wild, outlandish ideas — even if they seem impossible at first. As Einstein put it: "If at first an idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." Most of us would go, "That's a crazy idea — forget about it." To which Einstein would counter: "Got a crazy idea? Let's take a look at it!"
6. THINK OF YOUR ABSOLUTE WORST IDEA
Why worry about trying to come up with a great idea when it's so much easier to come up with a rotten idea! Freed from trying to come up with the greatest idea ever, you might just discover that a terrible idea can be "tweaked" into greatness.
7. BE PERSISTENT — NEVER TAKE "YES" FOR AN ANSWER
Instead of saying, "Yes, that's it!," learn to say, "Well, that could be it." Then go find some more ideas. As H. L. Mencken put it: "For every human problem there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." Remember: The best way to get a great idea is to get lots of ideas! Just keep at it.
8. REFUSE TO ACCEPT "EITHER/OR" THINKING
"Either/Or" thinking hems you in, limiting your options way too severely. Always look for a third, fourth, even fifth alternative. Then keep looking for more solutions. And think of a way to combine solutions. For example, instead of a gasoline-powered car or an electric car, there's the hybrid car, where two solutions — gas and electric — work together.
9. ASK YOURSELF, "WHAT WOULD __________ DO?"
10. ASK SOMEONE ELSE
Want some fresh, new ideas? Ask other people what they would do! No one said you had to go it alone.
11. WALK AWAY FROM IT
Take a walk, do the treadmill, take a shower. "You go back to it," says novelist John Irving ('The Cider House Rules'), "and you suddenly see something that if you'd been rushing and pushing, you wouldn't have seen." Finally …
12. HAVE FUN WITH IT
Let's get serious: Problem-solving demands a sense of fun. That's what loosens us up and gets our creative juices flowing. Remember: Most of all, problem solving … is a game! Impart that notion to your employees, children, and coworkers, and then just step aside and see what happens.
As entrepreneurs we often operate under the false assumption that we have all the answers. I am learning that, more often than not, I just have the question. My best resolutions to some of my most difficult situations have come from inspiring others to step forward.
Adapted from Joel Saltzman's book, "Shake That Brain!" (Wiley, 2006). Joel Saltzman is a speaker, facilitator, and consultant who teaches people in business to Shake That Brain!® and discover solutions for maximum profit.
Tel: (805) 573-1069
For articles on CREATIVITY, INNOVATION, ETHICS and more, visit Joel's articles page at: http://www.shakethatbrain.com/stb-articles.html
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