I wrote this blog a while ago. It was aimed at anyone who felt they could, and should, be doing a little more with their life but didn't know where to start. It works just as well for teams and even whole organisations though - mould the advice to suit your situation. I guarantee it'll kick start some positive action......
Would you believe me if I told you that solving problems could be really easy? The hardest work can come when you're trying to define what the problem is.
It's pretty rare that we can easily articulate what we want to achieve. Instead we often tend to feel restless. Restlessness has no focus, no goal. It's just an uneasy feeling. More specific symptoms of restlessness include:
- drifting to the fridge and eating items with high sugar content
- grumpily stating you have 'so much to do' while blankly checking all forms of social media
- brooding over why nobody has recognised your true genius (this remains a mystery)
- articulating, with diamond clarity, your bold plans for the future after half a bottle of wine (safe in the knowledge that you won't be required to do anything about it the following day, due to a mild hangover).
So, how can we define what's niggling us and conjure up a challenge we really fancy tackling?
As with many things, the first step is to just do something. Say the first thing that pops into your head that in some way touches on your angst. Only one rule ... the sentence has to begin "How might I?" Write this sentence in the middle of a large piece of paper.
I'll bare my soul and take you through one of my problems as I show you the process ....
Now, follow these instructions.
At the top of the paper write ... Why is this important to me?
At the bottom of the paper write ... What's stopping me?
Look at the challenge in the centre of the paper and apply the question "why this is important to me?" List as many reasons as you can think of and BE HONEST.
Do the same with the question "what's stopping me?"
So now, instead of a list of moans and problems, you're going to flip them into a series of 'how might I?' challenges.
See what I mean? Do this for the 'what's stopping me?' list too.
Now, write the challenges up on your big piece of paper. Put those from the 'why is this important' list above the main challenge (in my case, 'How might I get more organised?') and those from the 'what's stopping me?' list beneath.
When you look through this expanded collection of challenges, the REAL issues are often instantly apparent because you've picked the original problem apart. With more context to your problem you get a clearer perspective on what might need to be done. There's likely to be a few key blockages, which, once dealt with, will offer the key to solving the core problem.
At Leading Ideas we never take a problem or challenge at face value. The work we do in making sure we fully understand why our help is needed often proves to be some of the most valuable we do with teams and organisations. Getting to the heart of a challenge is also the critical first stage in our innovation process - get this wrong and you can waste huge amounts of time and money further down the line.
In my case here, I realised there were two areas I really wanted to concentrate on: how to make my accounts less intimidating and how I might organise my time better. I got some friends along to help me come up with these solutions to my problems ....
Sometimes just getting to the heart of the problem is all the hard work you need. The solutions for solving it come easily.
Why is this important? and what's stopping me? are great questions. Next time you feel a bit stuck, try asking them.