Practical methods to adopt to solve work challenges


1. New pathways

Here, this method is used to find the real work challenge or the problem underlying the problem statement. We need to keep asking the question “Why” when somebody uses the question “How to”. We keep asking “Why” a lot of times. This keeps continuing for some time till we reach a situation where each ‘Why” question becomes a “How to” question on its own.

2. Event triggers

We generate a random series of triggers in the in the form of a connected concept, product or a service. We then use this to generate fresh set of creative ideas.

We usually start with the current work challenge we are working on and then trigger a chain of events in the form of an associated concept or a product which is connected to the original problem at a higher level or at a lower level. We then stop whenever the event trigger makes us think of a new creative idea.

3. No action taken

What would happen if you don’t act?  Just be still. There are possibly two outcomes for this. One, we will have a clear and a better idea of the benefits that we will accrue for not acting. The benefits so accrued will be cues to our creative ideas. Two, we might also know the difficulties for not taking the action.

4. The three charts

Hang three charts or white boards. In the first chart, mention briefly the current situation. In the second chart, mention the obstacles for achieving your goals and in the last chart, mention where you want to be.  We would begin to notice as we write down that most of the obstacles can be converted to “How to” problem statements on their own.

5. Read articles and stories

Now and then we should keep reading articles and stories that we have not read before.  We need to be aware that we are following this method. Creative ideas bounce off when we come back. We need to keep the problem statement active in our sub-conscious mind.

When we come back and look at the current problems, we would be finding it in a totally different light. It would be a surprise that we have not thought about this before.

6. Take a walk

Take a walk in the park and come back to revisit the challenge. You will notice something different already.

7. In others’ shoes

Whenever you are in your organization, spend some time observing your organizational hierarchy. People work in different roles and grades. You can start visualizing the problem from a senior’s perspective. For e.g. “How the CEO of the company would look at the challenge” then go on to do it in the middle management positions of the company and also how the same problem would be handled by an employee at the lowest level. See yourself in their shoes and view the problem and see how it would affect them and their world.

8. Deadlines

Generally, when a deadline is imposed we would look at the problem differently. We would state the problem and its requirements in a different manner. It is good to view this under different time scales in days, weeks and months.

9. Consider “What if”  scenarios

Consider different scenarios that would make a different assumption about the problem. Ask “What if” to generate different “How to” statements. For e.g. “What if a war broke out” and how would you see the problem now?

10. Go beyond the normal

Look for scenarios where you deliver beyond the normal. Kind of being extraordinary. Instead of the usual 10-20% improvement, go for 70-80% improvement in your product or service and then see how you would rephrase or look at the problem in a totally different view.

11. Huge resources at your disposal as a gift

Visualize what you would do if you had huge resources at your disposal given to you as a gift to handle the problem. How would you view the problem? How would you direct your staff to get your work done? What work would they do? What can you learn from this? These are some the scenarios to consider to view the problem in new light.

12. Shout the drawbacks of your best product or service

Find faults and drawbacks of your best product or service in market areas and niches where they are actually hopeless. This way you will end up finding far more useful ideas for improvement. You will be seeing the problems in new light.