Problem Solving: Promoting a Solution Focused Office – Part 3

Let’s consider combining Logical and Lateral (or creative) thinking to promote a solution focused office. 

Logical Problem Solving
Logical problem solving, as it’s name implies, follows a logical sequence – you clearly move from one related thought to another and base your analysis on factual data and information.   Find out:

What is fact here?

What do I already know?

How and where can I find out the data and information I need?

Who would be able to help me?

Lateral (or Creative) Problem Solving
Lateral or creative thinking involves thinking “outside the box”.  Recently I saw a quote that extended this to “thinking as if there is no box” which amused me. 

Using imagination and considering problems from different perspectives will ensure you step away from the factual, logical mode of thinking and give you a whole new perspective.

The Six Thinking Hats
One of my favourite lateral thinking strategies comes from Edward de Bono – who is actually attributed with penning the term “lateral thinking”.  Head to his website here for more info and consider this fantastic Mind Map below:

In fact, Mind Maps are a creative graphic technique in their own right.  They originated in the 1960s by Tony Buzan.  Visit and follow the steps to making a Mindmap.

Random Ideation
This is attributed to author Michael Michalko in his book “Thinkertoys” who introduces that by exposing our minds to random words that are unconnected to our problem or challenge, they provoke new associations.  Our mind loves to make connections, and will do so, no matter how different two concepts are from each other.

Here’s how to use this simple but powerful technique:

1. Select a random word from a book – open a book on any page, close your eyes and point your finger at the page – that’s your random word. 

2. Think of as many things as you can that are associated with the random word you have selected and write them down. An excellent way to do this is to break your word down into its characteristics. What is its function? What are its aesthetics? How is it used? What metaphors can be associated with it? What is the opposite of your word? Write down as many associated ideas and concepts as possible.

3. Force connections between your random word and your problem or challenge, using the characteristics you identified in the previous step.

4. Write your ideas down.  Michalko claims that there may be many ideas that really aren’t fruitful – however it only takes one valuable idea to make the investment of your time in this activity worthwhile.

“Ultimately, you will not use most of the connections you come up with, but you can’t prejudge which lines of thought will be fruitful – let alone which lines of thought will lead to a big idea, like a wondrously painted Easter egg waiting for someone to part the grass to find it,” he explains.

On a similar vein you can use the Comparative Sensory Overload technique – it sounds complicated but actually really simple – pick an object and consider how it looks, feels and sounds.  Compare that object to your problem to kick off your creative thinking!

Step into my shoes
Another powerful creative technique is to imagine being someone else.  What would they be thinking about this problem? 

Try thinking like:

Ghandi, Your mother/father, Your son/daughter, Your younger self, a customer, a colleague, a team member, the Leader of your country or someone you don’t particularly get on with!


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