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Always Fail to Solve Your Problems? Perhaps You’re Dealing With Problems That Never Exist

Always Fail to Solve Your Problems? Perhaps You’re Dealing With Problems That Never Exist

In 2012, Jakob Nielsen, principal of the Nielsen Research Group, wrote a compelling piece titled “Tunnel Vision and Selective Attention”, to delved into the problems caused by tunnel vision. Nielsen argued that tunnel vision is a natural response that impedes problem solving abilities.

To break tunnel vision, you need to focus on brainstorming new questions, rather than ideas.

Brainstorming Questions Helps You Better Understand the Problems You Have to Deal With

Several years ago, I was a member of a business incubator in the town I lived in. The executive director was asked to resign. During one of our mixers, the chairman alluded to the reason.

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“Sometimes people don’t do things wrong, but they focus on the wrong things,” he said without mentioning the executive director by name.

Even the brightest decision-makers fall victim to certain decision-making heuristics. Their solutions are based on flawed assumptions about the nature of the problem.

The best way to avoid this trap is to being the problem-solving process by brainstorming questions, rather than ideas to solve the perceived problem. Warren Berger, a journalist and the editor of the website “A More Beautiful Question”, states that coming up with new questions is the best way to improve the quality of decisions:[1]

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“While it may seem counterintuitive (Who needs questions? We need answers!), encouraging people to formulate lots of questions around an issue or problem can lead to deeper analysis and a better understanding of that problem–which, eventually, can yield smarter ideas on how to tackle it.”

Kristi Schaffner, a Microsoft executive, states that they use the QFT model for problem solving, which focuses on formulating new questions to better understand the nature of the problem. Other executives follow similar processes.

Before We Struggle to Find the Solution, We Need to Identify the Problem Accurately First

The problem with traditional decision-making models is that decision-makers often formulate solutions to problems that don’t exist. Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of Buzz Points and a contributor for Harvard Business Review writes that the quality of his firm’s solutions improved by 59% in 2011, due to a new problem-solving approach that focused on finding the brainstorming questions:[2]

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“Since our launch, more than 10 years ago, we have managed more than 2,000 problems and solved more than half of them—a much higher proportion than most organizations achieve on their own. Indeed, our success rates have improved dramatically over the years (34% in 2006, 39% in 2009, and 57% in 2011), which is a function of the increasing quality of the questions we pose and of our solver community.”

Don’t Let the Questions You Ask Get You Distracted

Breaking the groupthink model is important. However, it is easy to get too focused on playing devil’s advocate at the expense of developing a richer understanding of the problem.

Unfortunately, many questions that are asked don’t help decision-makers better understand the problem they are trying to tackle. You need to make sure that you are asking questions that can actually be solved. You need to ask questions that help you understand the problem better.

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Brainstorm new questions to understand the nature of the problem, but don’t raise new questions for their own sake.

Reference

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Ryan Kh

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Last Updated on October 22, 2018

Do You Have to Give Everything Up to Get a Fresh Start?

Do You Have to Give Everything Up to Get a Fresh Start?

There is a common belief that when you want to embark or start on something new, whether it be a project, a hobby, a job or some big life change, a certain sacrifice must be made. “Out with the old, and in with the new” as they say. It’s almost as if we’re not capable of handling more than what we already have unless we let go of something. But is that really always the case?

When I was young, I took up violin lessons. I enjoyed playing the violin, but when I saw a friend playing the guitar, I got interested in that and wanted to start playing the guitar. My parents however, insisted that I continue with violin lessons and felt I should give my full attention to one instrument, rather than a few; they didn’t believe in being a Jack of all trades. And so sadly, I never got to take up guitar lessons.

Afraid of Giving it Up?

Have you found yourself in a similar circumstance? Perhaps you’re at a crossroad right now, and you’re trying to decide on whether to stay on in your current job, or move on to something completely different.

You’re not truly doing something you love or are passionate about, and so you want to make that change… but it’s a risky plunge.

You’re going to have to sacrifice everything that you’ve worked for over the years. You’re going to have to say goodbye to that big salary, the benefits that comes with the job, and you’re going to have to adjust to the changes.

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Thinking of all that is already detering you from stepping out to take that plunge, isn’t it?

Or maybe you have many responsibilities in life and little time for yourself. You have a spouse and children to take care of, maybe you’ve even got aging parents to think of.

At work, you’ve got subordinates waiting on you for advice. As a leader, you have to manage the team. You’ve got conference calls in different time zones to take, business trips to make, decisions to execute.

You have a lot on your plate, and you wish you could just set aside some time to enjoy the pleasures in life. Golf more, take the kids out more, go on vacations more.

Sure, if you wanted all that time, you could take on a lower paying job that would require less of your time. But that would mean a big pay cut and less comfort in your life. If not, you’ll just have to wait till retirement.

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Play It Safe and Regret It Later

In these situations, it usually feels like an all or nothing approach. And, it then becomes the ‘smart’ thing to just ignore the challenge and stay put. Unless you’re overly confident that things are going to work out, or that you have a back up plan in place, most people never truly dare to take on new opportunities after a certain age or stage in life for fear of losing out, falling behind or having to give up whatever it is that they’ve already accomplished thus far.

But this is also where many individuals end up feeling regret much later on in life, perhaps as they approach retirement and have a sense of unfulfillment. There is an emptiness or a lack that they start feeling because they never answered their ‘calling’ or satisfied their heart’s desires. You may end up feeling short changed and unhappy with how things have turned out.

Most people end up feeling more bitter over the regrets of not having done or tried something, rather than in the mistakes they made when they tried something. It’s always the ‘what ifs’ that will go on to haunt you.

No Sacrifice Needed!

The good news is, you don’t actually have to make such a big sacrifice when it comes to change! You can carry on with your existing way of life, your job or your responsibilities while changing or doing something new.

It’s really not that hard because everything that you do in life, whether it’s your career, relationships or even health, are driven by 7 Cornerstone Skills. These are 7 qualities that if you have them, can make you excel at anything. And we already have most, if not all, of these 7 Cornerstone Skills; we just don’t always know how to use them to the best of our abilities.

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Unfortunately, some of us may not even know the importance of these Cornerstone Skills, and how just sharpening one skill can significantly improve the wellbeing of your life.

If you’re that busy professional with far too much on your plate, thinking there’s nothing you can do to lighten the weight so that you can breathe a little and have time to enjoy life, then think again.

Because I can show you some proven techniques that will improve your Focus significantly, and the way you manage your Time. You’ll end up investing in more time, than spending time unnecessarily, thus giving you the ability to enjoy some of that time for yourself.

By learning to Learn again, you’ll be able to grasp knowledge a lot quicker, allowing you to manage your responsibilities in a smart manner.

These are just 3 of the 7 Cornerstone Skills that I’ve mentioned. By harnessing the potential of all 7, you will realize that if you truly want to achieve a certain goal or ambition, you need not worry about having to trade off a certain aspect of your life.  Instead, you’ll be able to work around things, or improve things even faster because of the skills that you’ve now enhanced from understanding how these 7 Cornerstone Skills work together.

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Making a life improvement, career switch or new goal pursuit can easily happen without risky trade-offs once you know how to harness your Cornerstone Skills into your existing life.

Ready to learn more about the 7 Cornerstone Skills and find out why they’re so important? Subscribe to our newsletter today and begin making that change you’ve been wanting to, without sacrifices!

Featured photo credit: Martha Dominguez de Gouveia via unsplash.com

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