Whether we realize it consciously or simply move through process without thinking, the act of getting new ideas is an act of problem solving. We don’t have something we to do something we want to get done. The idea is the solution. But like finding lost keys or finding a job, the solution is always in the last place we look … mostly because we stop looking once we’ve found our solution.
On the first day back from vacation, getting into the rhythm of solution thinking might take a little more creativity than most days. Yet, in a short work week, we need to get a faster flow and wider choice of ideas in less time than usually. One way bring the vacation experience into the workplace and have it help us is trying what we learned to do as kids (often to explain our failures) — make up fantastic stories — with a little practice we can use that same ability to push us to faster success in problem solving. Here are a few techniques that will help you do that!
- Look for the questions presented not the answers. When we’re looking for ideas, we focus too narrowly over answers. Turn into a 3-year-old and ask relentless questions. What are you doing? What’s a blog post? What if you wrote it as another person? Suppose an alien kidnapped you just when you started writing? Use the questions to move your brain into the ridicucous and when you’re sure you’re there. Then work on the problem.
- Get obsessed and curious about one detail. The one weird detail of leaf on tree that is an entirely different color raises curiosity that leads to questions. Make up several stories that answer the curious question. The solution to your problem may occur to you as you explore the stories that you’re spinning.
- Take a vacation in your mind. Get some perspective by being reflective. Take your question with you as you imagine yourself in your most favorite habitat — on the beach, skiing, in a beautiful forest, In 5-star restaurant with a fabulous view — maybe even the edge of the Grand Canyon or under a starry night. Give yourself a mental that allows your ideas to expand and grow.
- Use music to go back in time. Put on it on softly and remember who you used to be. Ask yourself what would that you be thinking was important about current events and situations? Have a conversation with the person you once were about the problem that you’re now facing. Think about the most interesting characters — artists, writers, musicians, dancers, engineers, coders, designers, contractors, mathematicians, boring teachers, and bartenders — who you’ve shared your life with. How would they approach the puzzle you’re facing?
- Turn your situation into a disaster movie. Take the problem to world-ending proportions. Invent an action hero to save the world by delivering the solution you need at the very last second.
The process of linking your ideas into an ordered sequence of curious questions or an amazing plot line breaks down the false barriers that prevent us from seeing other ways to approach the answers we’re needing.
Which of the five ideas seems most up your alley?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!