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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday—A New Week

Happy 1-13-13!
New ideas for a new week!

New Year's resolutions mean a new start on old problems.  The corporate training website MindTools.com has some useful ways to reframe and tackle problems in order to generate  a fresh perspective and come up with new ideas.

Conceptual blockbusting is the ability to break up your usual way of thinking and see a problem in an entirely new way.  In order to do this, you have to open your mind and think differently.  Here are some neat ways to do that!



How to Create New ideas

Challenge assumptions

Always start with this one!  When you discard your reasons for not doing something, then you are challenging your assumptions.

"I can't lose weight because I don't have the time to exercise or plan my meals."

Assuming that you don't have the time to do...whatever...is self-limiting, and if you assume that you do have the time, then real solutions start to emerge.  If you say that you have the time, then it's only a matter of finding it.  Ride your bike or walk to work 3 times a week. Work in 45 minutes a day of exercise, any kind of exercise.  Get up earlier, eat dinner earlier.  Park farther away.  Wear a pedometer and count your steps.  Take the stairs instead of the escalator.  Challenge the assumption and make the time.

Reword the problem
Stating the problem in a different way changes the way that we think about it.  This is a powerful tool because it  allows us to look at a problem from a different angle.  My elderly neighbor, Charlie, used to tell me that if I wanted to solve a big problem or accomplish a big task, all I had to do was to break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces.  It worked every time, and I still use this technique today.

When I'm really stuck, I love to ask, "What will happen if I don't solve this problem today or this week or at all?"  If you can identify all of the things that will happen if you don't solve the problem, then it's easier to understand the components of what you're dealing with.  Sometimes, breaking it down into smaller pieces helps clarify the obstacles and simplify the steps toward a solution.

Reverse Engineering
When you've run out of ways to solve a problem, have fun with it and imagine all of the ways that you could make the problem worse.  This frees up your imagination to come up with new scenarios, and because it is fun, it is also relaxing.  It helps with with decision-making when you clarify actions that will move you away from your goal.  Once the pressure is off to solve a problem, you are open to a more creative approach.

Connect the Unconnected
Get out of your usual problem-solving mode and do something completely unrelated.  Take the opportunity to change up the scenery and let in random events that may inadvertently connect to a solution.  Do something that will reroute your thought patterns.  How does an apple falling from a tree relate to Newton's law of universal gravitation?  It was a random event that changed the world.

Shift Your Perspective
This is an easy one!  Get someone else's perspective.  Most people take it as a sign of respect that you want to hear their opinion.  Ask someone who may have a different take on the problem than you do.  Play the "What would (fill in the name) do?" game.  How would someone else you know handle the same problem?

Employ Enablers
My favorite of all of the new idea techniques!  These are activities that create a positive atmosphere in which to create new ideas.

•  Believe in yourself
•  Allow creative down time_play, relax, unwind
•  Change your surroundings_take a walk, go to Starbucks for a salted caramel latté, walk downtown
•  Shut out distractions_close the door, divert phone calls, get up before everybody else
•  Use fun & humor_find humor all around you_have fun!

Another great little read on this topic is a book by James Webb Young...check out this free pdf!  (Scroll your mouse over the bottom of the page & click on the camera icon to see it in page-by-page preview format.)
How Ideas Are Born

A Technique for Producing Ideas

This is another way of looking at the mechanics of idea production with a focus on the fundamentals of thinking.  Really interesting global perspective here, again applied to a business environment.

The entire book is...28 pages long.  You could read the whole thing over a cup of coffee!

I really like Chapter 3_The Pareto Theory, named after the great Italian engineer, sociologist, economist, and political scientist, Vilfredo Pareto.  It's another take on two basic ways of problem-solving, either through satisficing (neat word!) or maximizing.  Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) wrote an interesting blog post about this concept, Are You A Satisficer Or A Maximizer?

Make it a fun and productive week!