Slow down, you move too fast

Posted on: July 17, 2009

Hey, it’s the weekend kick back and relax!  Actually, that’s not just my suggestion, but also the advice of Chuck Palus and David Horth from the Center for Creative Leadership.  

In their book, The Leader’s Edge: Six Creative Competencies for Navigating Complex Challenges, Palus and Horth explain that the increasing pace of work today often demands that people scan information quickly and make rapid judgments.

Palus and Horth write that managers faced with a complex problem typically spend 90% of their time solving the problem and only about 10% figuring out what the problem really is. However, difficult problems often begin to untangle when you spend more time examining them.

Horth and Palus suggest five ways in which we can look at problems through different lenses:

  1. Stand in different places: Shift perspective by radically changing your point of view. If you are a marketer, become the customer. If you are a coach, become the trainee. Turn the problem upside down so that all the familiar parts look strange – then look again.
  2. Use the lenses of other domains: If you are an artist, look through a lens of science. If you are a scientist, import the lens of artistry. The ability to use different lenses may already exist within you as an individual leader or within your group’s collective experience. If you are based in Greater Manchester, why not use our Innovation Manchester network to find sounding boards from other sectors?
  3. Ask powerful questions. Powerful questions may be as simple as “What’s missing?” or “What if we deliberately tried to make this problem worse? What would be the positives if we failed?”
  4. Foster new knowledge. Send members of your organization into the marketplace among customers, constituencies, competitors and others. Make sure they regularly spend time in places where they can gain new perspectives.
  5. Examine problems by changing the group’s level of attention. If the group you are leading likes to surf quickly through issues, make a practice of slowing them down. If your group naturally prefers ponderous analysis, practice taking intuitive scans of the data or hold short, rapid-sensing forums on fast-breaking issues.

Next time, take some time and really analyze a problem before trying to solve it, and see what happens to the level of innovation in your organization!


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