2 Questions for Innovative Solutions

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Creativity |

Tangles Prevent Action

Tangles Prevent Action

A client had a gnarly problem and there seemed to be only one solution, which he didn’t like.  He felt his hands were tied, so he procrastinated, and then called me.  I suggested he ask his team two questions which I had come upon recently as I worked with the board of a non-profit called the Florida Creativity Alliance.


In what ways might we…?

How might we…?

What’s the value in these simple questions?  It frees up the mind of preconceived limitations that shut down any possible solutions other than the obvious one.

TEXTING THE BRAIN:  The questions signal the brain that there are possibilities and require that we explore them in multiple ways.  They don’t ask for the “right” solution, which limits your thinking – requiring assessment and judgement before creativity.

“In what ways might we…?” assumes there are many ways, and we just have to think of them.  Neuroscience research has shown that our brain is highly impacted by the nuances of language, so these differences in how we state our question or problem are far more important than you might think.

VALUE OF BAD IDEAS: Asking “What should we do?” implies there is one right answer, which is a closing process rather than an opening process.  Innovative solutions need openness and curiosity, first!  In a blog post several years back I quoted business writer and entreprenuer Seth Godin:

“Finding good ideas is surprisingly easy once you deal with the problem of finding bad ideas.  All the creativity books in the world aren’t going to help you if you’re unwilling to have lousy, lame, and even dangerously bad ideas….One way to become creative is to discipline yourself to generate bad ideas.  The worse the better.  Do it a lot and magically you’ll discover that some good ones slip through.”

So try these questions when you think you’ve run out of possible solutions.  Actually try the questions whenever you encounter a problem.  Hopefully they’ll help you generate some really bad ideas and also some really great ideas