Innovation culture doesn’t happen one time but all the time. Jason Thomson, Creative Director at Jigsaw, an “idea assembly” company that helps businesses tackle challenges, offers an approach to creative business problem solving for whatever complex issue is at hand.
Step 1: Know your thinking style
Before jumping into problem-solving mode, start by understanding how you and those working with you approach and process ideas.
Do you prefer to…
- “see” an idea? You’re a visual thinker
- ”hear” an idea? You’re an auditory thinker
- learn about an idea while taking a walk? You’re a kinesthetic thinker
Would you rather…
- build upon existing ideas? You are a conservative thinker
- start from scratch? You are a liberal thinker
Do you think most effectively…
- in the moment? You are a short processor
- when you’ve had some time to consider things? You are a long processor
Do you prefer to think…
- alone? You are an individual thinker
- in teams? You are a team thinker
Step 2: Ask “why” to define the core problem
What are the symptoms of the problem at hand? Ask “why” until you get to the root cause. Looking at the symptoms of a problem allows it to be framed differently. Here’s an example:
Problem: The Washington Monument is disintegrating
Why? Use of harsh chemicals.
Why? To clean pigeon poop.
Why so many pigeons? They eat spiders. There are lots of spiders there.
Why so many spiders? They eat gnats. There are lots of gnats there.
Why so many gnats? At dusk, they are attracted by the lights.
Solution: Wait until after dusk to light up the monument.
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Step 3: Keep asking questions to solve the problem
Generate as many solutions as possible. Then ask more questions: What would the simple solution be? What would you do if you were starting from scratch? What stands in the way of solving this problem?
Then, find the best way to communicate the path to your team. Help them see a clear way to solve the problem.
But remember: you need to be an “ideas therapist,” not an idea generator. “Your job is not to come up with ideas — your job is to create an environment to create ideas,” says Jason. You have to be positive, to listen to people and to be a builder. Be the one who will always ask “Why?” in order to keep an “idea building” culture alive.
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