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  • Writer's pictureLoen Miles

Saving Monday with Creative Problem Solving



Welcome to, oh yes, another lockdown (of sorts). Some worse affected than others, but a lockdown never the less. As we face more uncertainty, heading into the winter months, it’s inevitable that companies are needing to strip back and redundancies are on the cards for folk left, right and centre – in fact, redundancies are estimated to shoot up to one million by the end of 2020, that’s compared to 106,000 in 2019. It’s a scary prediction.


So, how can we start to adopt more problem solving in our mindsets to enable improvements in relation to money saving that can save our Monday morning slot in the jobs market?


This isn’t just a business problem, or a leadership problem, or a Governmental problem. This is OUR problem and we need to get smart and deal with it.


I have always been a solutions person, I love a good challenge, a bit of collaborative and creative problem solving and getting stuck in to resolving things. I do however appreciate that many people are less like this, perhaps it doesn’t come naturally, perhaps it’s been ‘computer says no’d out of you by managers and leaders you’ve been unfortunate enough to work for, whatever the reason for the missing or reduced passion for problem solving, it’s time that minset was either developed or returned to its rightful owner – NOW IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE!


Now, I’m not saying we can collectively save every role, we have to face facts that we’re in a pandemic and that means this slump is here and it’s here to stay for a while. However, we can take it on and we can create and innovate like we’ve never done before, we are heroes of our time and that requires thinking, effort and creativity.


THREE WAYS TO THINK LIKE A PROBLEM SOLVING HERO


So, if this is the case, how do we need to think to be successful? Below are three ways we can adjust our thinking for better results:


1. Think ‘we can’. It’s incredible, the power of positive thinking, believing that we can do this is a sure fire way of ensuring that we will! Find positives before putting down others ideas, see how it might work and keep working on that path. Keep telling yourself ‘I can’ and ‘we can’, you may be surprised at the results!


2. Look for mini improvements. Some call it 1% improvements, some call it marginal gains, others refer to it as continuous improvement. However you refer to it, keep it going – accumulate a series of ten minor improvements and collectively they could make one large improvement. Seek mini improvements in EVERYTHING!


3. Creative collaboration. Now this requires us to work in teams, you know that old saying ‘two heads are better than one’? Well a team of heads can be ever better than two IF those heads work together, collaboratively. For this to work managers and leaders need to accept they don’t know everything, people are in their roles for a reason – it’s because they’re good at what they do, so let them be good at seeking solutions, improvements and creative things to make the business more efficient, let them shine.

As individuals we too need to recognise the value in working together, accepting others ideas, thoughts and suggestions and going with the flow to help make them work – even if at first they don’t look too hot, start with the weird, mould it and help it grow into something totally superb.


PUTTING YOUR BACK INTO IT REQUIRES EFFORT


It takes effort and energy to think differently and to be creative. What follows are three tips on focusing that effort for successful creative solutions:


1. Actively seek solutions. Avoid lazy thinking, we can all get up, go to work, do our job and go home again simply to collect a wage packet at the end of the day/week or month. But it takes effort and energy to actively seek out new ideas. Make that effort and, with practise, you’ll find not only that those ideas will start to flow but your work could find new purpose and may well give you a new energy boost along with it. Remember, seek improvements in EVERYTHING!


2. Find ideas and make them work. At first some ideas are likely to appear rather silly, unmanageable or even impossible. That’s OK. Electricity didn’t happen like magic, music being recorded on records, then tapes, CDs and then electronically all took lots of trial and error and the creation of the technologies we now have at our fingertips took years to develop. Ideas start the rollercoaster of change, they are a spark that collaboratively can be ignited. Utilising De Bono’s Six Hats techniques can really help here by controlling instant objections or negativity to new ideas and promoting great thinking.


3. Push for change. As mentioned above, managers and leaders need to accept that they’re not the only one’s with great ideas, there needs to be a change in mentality around this if they refuse to accept this, and if they want the business to succeed. Push for this. We must all take on our negative colleagues, the ‘there’s no point’ people; using the six hats method will help here. Push for this too.

It’s important to recognise that some people are towards thinkers (‘I want to succeed’) while others are away from thinkers (‘I don’t want to fail’). Both can want the same thing, but the approach may be rather different – we need to accept both directions of thought if we are to achieve true collaboration in our creative thinking.

Pushing ourselves, even when everything seems against us, is also essential for success. If you have an idea and you believe it’s worth sharing, do it, do it again and if needed keep doing it until someone receives it well and runs with it – as I said, the initial idea may not be suitable, but it’s the spark that could ignite that which we’re all so desperately seeking.

LET YOUR CREATIVITY SHINE


Without creativity, none of us would be in work, there would be no jobs, no products, no electricity, music or tech! We can all think creatively, it’s something that we can also improve with practise, and this is how:


1. Mindmapping. Brain-dump your ideas, thoughts, imaginings. Get them down in what ever formate you choose; drawing, writing, a mix of both, it doesn’t matter, just get them down. Some may like to do this alone, where others may be better to feed off others and build on others thoughts and suggestions. Which ever way you choose to do it, get it down on paper (or in your tech) so all ideas and thoughts are visible – this mish-mash of information and ideas can help spark the next big thing.


2. Change your position in the room. When seeking solutions, try moving to a different location and rethinking e.g. move to a different corner of the room, a different room etc. By changing our direction and what we see in front of us, we can kickstart our brain into thinking differently – so when you’re next struggling to think of any more ideas, simply change your position, stand up, sit down or move and it could make all the difference.


3. Hold walking meetings. Walking is recognised as a way to get our creative juices flowing, a Stanford University study has found that walking can boost our creative ability by a staggering 60% compared to when we are sitting – take a look at this article in Stanford News for more info: https://news.stanford.edu/2014/04/24/walking-vs-sitting-042414/. We’ve known this for a while, yet very few people in business take advantage of this creativity boost tactic, and it has multiple benefits – not only do we get exercise, we also get fresh air AND feel the success of creative thinking along the way, it’s a win:win:win:win solution, so get walking folks and help solve the COVID business crisis!


I’d like to close this with a final pointer to help improve business efficiency and avoiding the need for redundancies. Use people for their strengths. Invite people who don’t think the same as you into the conversation. Get less experienced people involved too. You know that term ‘out of the mouths of babes’? Well, there’s a lot of truth in the idea that children (and those will less knowledge or awareness than us) can ask questions a more experienced person may miss. Naivity can be a gift when wanting to solve problems.


Good luck with your efficiency and improvements drive. We hope you find the path to success fun and engaging. If you’d like any help on the way then give us a call on 07725 468897 or email hello@thirst4learning.com. We can facilitate your creative thinking meetings, educate on solution and problem solving techniques and design creative ways to get you and your people seeking those continuous multiple improvements that drive your business success.


Thank you for reading – have a great day!

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