Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Problem Solving by Envisioning a Positive Outcome

2015-11-12 12.34.10

Problem solving is a creative process, but that is not to say that the process cannot be assisted by methods. One such method is to envision a positive outcome. Outlined in the book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath describes a two step process.

  1. Ask a “miracle question”
    • If this problem is somehow solved in the middle of the night by some miracle, how would you know when you wake up in the morning that they problem is resolved? That is to say, what are the signs you can observe that shows that problem is gone?
  2. Ask the “exception question”
    • When was the last time you saw some of the signs? What was different about it?

The miracle question focuses your attention on what success looks like. How do you know when you have arrived at the destination? It’s similar to articulating your goal clearly so they are quantifiable and you can describe the feeling, the consequences, the products that come with having reached a goal. Not only is this process valuable for being able to identify a solution, it helps you to better frame the problem itself by making sure that the solution you are looking for actually matches the problem you are trying to solve, and vice versa.

The exception question gets you to identify mini successes already present in your environment or situation where the problem exists. Perhaps these mini successes are one off positive outcomes and have not scaled or propagated as evidence of instituting a full-blown solution, but it is encouraging to be able to pinpoint an aspect of what you would expect if you had solved the problem already present in your environment. It then allows you to examine the situation closely to identify what facilitated these positive outcomes to take place, and see if they can be mimicked, repeated, accelerate the propagation of these outcomes and scaled.

Problem solving and goal setting: it can be two sides of the same coin, as the authors have discussed a similar approach, “finding a bright spot” to implement solutions that work in your environment.

 Photo: Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz, California


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This entry was posted on November 19, 2015 by in Management, Psychology and tagged , .
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