This post is the sequel to “The Secrets of Creative Problem Solving” posted two weeks ago. Don Garb, President, Engineered Awareness recently led a workshop on “The Art of Invention,” which introduced some strategies for problem solving, some of which were new to me.
Wish List Strategy
Let’s say that you are tasked with inventing something at work. It could be a new product, process or service. On a sheet of paper, start writing down all the things you could give to your client, without thinking about the practicality of it. Your client could be either inside or outside your organization.
After you have made your wish list, look closer at each item and eliminate based on how practical it is. Repeat the process of adding to the wish list and eliminating until you have generated some freebies and innovative things you can deliver to your client within budget and the time frame.
Do the Opposite Strategy
You are experiencing a pesky problem at work and you have to resolve it. Think about how others would likely resolve the problem and do the opposite. This forces you to step outside the status quo and take the path less traveled.
Channelling the Master Strategy
You have a problem to solve, think about an expert/master in the field, and ask yourself how the master would solve that problem. Whatever comes to you, follow those steps.
Change One Thing Strategy
You decide you have been doing things the same way for a long time and want to shake things up. Dissect the process you follow and change one of the steps. That’s a simple way to make a change.
Step Out into the Unknown Strategy
Picture a circle. Now imagine that the circle represents what you know. Inside the circle will be holes, which represent holes in your knowledge. There will be tears at the edges of the circle, which represent gaps, and there will be things that you know for sure. Outside your circle is what you don’t know, and the collective knowledge of humankind. To expand your circle of knowledge, you have to venture out into the unknown, then find your way back into the known.
Finding ways to step put into the unknown is not necessarily an easy task. But the way to go is to get into Alpha Brainwave State, by slowing your mind down. One way is to listen to soothing music. Think of activities that have a calming effect on you and do them.
The Three Brains Strategy
This strategy took a while for me to wrap my head around it and I am still feeling somewhat shaky in trying to describe what I learned in the workshop. I conducted additional research so that I could write about it, so here goes!
We have three brains in one: The neo-cortex which has been evolving for over 3 million years and it’s where thoughts happen and it is mainly intellectual; limbic system or old mammalian brain, which has been evolving for over 150 million years, controls your feelings/emotions; and the reptilian or lizard brain which has been evolving for over 300 million years and controls your instincts.
Connection Between the Three Brains
- The reptilian brain is very quick, reflex and programmed for survival. The reptilian brain controls instinct (breathing, vision, bodily movement and allows territoriality, aggression, and dominance).
- The limbic brain controls emotion (feelings, relationship/nurturing, images and dreams, play).
- The neo-cortex controls thought (abstraction, planning, perception, language, mathematics, politics, music, religion, and so on).
Emotions and intellect live in different brains. Your limbic brain, or the feeler, is your dominant brain, but the reptilian brain is the most important one. There are more connections between your limbic and reptilian brain, the limbic and cortex brains than there are between the neo-cortex and the reptilian brain. So the neo-cortex is semi-independent from the limbic and reptilian brain, likes to think that it’s the boss, but is slow to respond under pressure and shuts down when you are stressed.
To increase your problem solving skills, you have to get all three brains to work in harmony, creating what is called a meta-self. The cortex brain loves to be in control, so it has to stop thinking that it’s the boss and act with humility. The lizard brain is big on respect and wants to be heard. One of the best ways to integrate the three brains and make them work in harmony is through meditation. When you meditate, you shut down your thoughts, and you are in the Alpha Brainwave state, which is the state where creativity occurs.
How can you use this information? What do you have to add to the conversation? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.