Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Monday, January 10, 2022
|Source: NY Times|
Suppose your team has a very challenging, complex problem to solve. You would like to generate some creative solutions to that problem. What might you do BEFORE you gather the team together as a mechanism for stimulating more innovative thinking? You could encourage the team to warm up before tackling the issue together. What types of "warm-up" should you engage in before "running the race" together?
1. Physical activity: As Annie Murphy Paul notes in her fabulous new book, The Extended Mind, engaging in some physical activity can be an effective way to enhance your brainpower. Moreover, getting outdoors for that activity can be especially powerful. Getting the blood moving is essential to thinking clearly and creatively.
2. Be an anthropologist: Rather than simply immerse yourself in spreadsheets and data, go out into world and observe some actual customers. Watch how your firm's products and services are actually being used, and watch for those pain points experienced by your customers.
3. Imagine someone else tackling this problem: Scholars Evan Polman and Kyle Emich have shown that research subjects are more likely to solve a challenging problem if they imagine someone else faced that particular predicament (rather than being in that situation themselves).
4. Engage in an improv exercise: A simple "yes-and" exercise can be a powerful way to get people to lower their inhibitions, think more freely, and become more comfortable offering bold and original ideas despite some reservations or concerns.
5. Brainstorm questions, not answers: Ask the team to come up with different questions that they would like to answer regarding this problem. What might they like to learn more about in this situation? These efforts can be effective at helping people reframe the problem before the team in a manner that may stimulate more creative thinking. In many cases, the initial frame may be too narrow, and therefore, it may constrain the range of options considered.
6. Gather some physical materials: We can think more creatively if we have objects to touch, feel, and work with along with our team. They might enable us to build mock-ups as we later brainstorm together, or we might use the materials to illustrate a customer pain point more clearly (rather than simply using words spoken or on a page).
7. What would we never do? Ask the team to generate a list of solutions that your company would NEVER choose. Then ask the team to explain WHY these options would not be considered. What orthodoxy or conventional wisdom does that reveal? Should that conventional wisdom or these assumptions be questioned before trying to solve this problem?
Friday, January 07, 2022
Thursday, January 06, 2022
Naik describes a fascinating moment that occurred one day as Drs. Allan Goldman and Martin Elliot watched one of their favorite sports on television. The physicians observed in awe as a Formula One auto racing pit crew engineered a remarkably efficient and safe handoff each time the driver entered the pit during a race. They decided to try to learn from these racing crews and apply those lessons to their work in the hospital. Naik describes what happened next:
Wednesday, January 05, 2022
|Source: Discover Magazine|
Rachel Feintzeig has written a Wall Street Journal article this week titled "Decision Fatigue is Real: Here's How to Beat it This Year." The article notes that many people are feeling overwhelmed during the pandemic by the sheer number of seemingly consequential decisions they must make, both personally and professionally. Scholars describe a phenomenon called anticipatory regret, in which people look ahead to why they might be unsatisfied with the choice they are about to make, and as a result, they find themselves unable to act now.
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
|Source: Mission to Learn|
We can learn a great deal about setting and achieving goals by studying how people engage in physical exercise. That's precisely what University of Pennsylvania scholar Katy Milkman has done very successfully in her career. She features some of that insightful research in her terrific new book,
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
|Source: Lean Enterprise Institute|
Mandy Gilbert, Founder and CEO of Creative Niche, wrote an interesting article several years ago for Inc. The title of the essay was, "Why Saying 'I Don't Know' Is a Sign of a Strong Leader." The article reminded me of a conversation I had with a UK-based CEO in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. She recounted a story of her first meeting with her top management team after shutting down the corporate offices in March 2020. This CEO started the meeting by telling the team, "I just want to remind you all that I haven't been through a global pandemic either. So, let's figure this out together." Here's what Gilbert wrote in her article that reminded me very much of this story of the CEO confronting the pandemic with her senior team: