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There are many problem solving techniques which you can use for a variety of
situations I'd like to share 2 with you today. Creativity is a key capability
when finding solutions and getting a fresh perspective is a good place to start.
So I am going to share 2 techniques today; The Reversal Technique and
The Metaphor Technique
In the reversal technique you solve the opposite problem to your stated
problem and look at what solutions might also then be appropriate for your
stated problem and what causes might be preventable or removed thereby eliminating
the problem completely.
Problem Stated - People don't like a smoky atmosphere in my restaurant
Reverse problem - People want a smoky atmosphere in my restaurant
If you were to solve the reverse problem how would you do it?
- Create a smoking only restaurant
- Have an advertising campaign aimed at smokers on the menu
- Filter smoky air through the air conditioning
- Have ash trays where waiters would constantly refill with lit cigarette
- Hire people to come in and smoke
Now look at how the principle of those solutions could apply to your stated
Today's second option is The Metaphor Technique
In this technique you use "like a" to put your problem into a different
context. For example
Problem Stated - Customers on the London to New York flights are down
overall by 20% on last year
Metaphor - Garden
What are the elements of a garden?
- In a garden there are many types of plant, vegetable insect
- In a garden certain vegetables grow better at certain types of year
- A garden can mean different things to different people
- A garden can be just lawn or full of features
- A garden has weeds
- A garden needs maintenance
- Some gardens have hired gardeners to tend them
Then ask what problems could this give a garden owner?
You can do that yourselves!
Then ask, how is a flight on a specific route like a garden?
- on an aircraft there are many types of people
- certain types of people go to New York at certain times of year
- New York means different things to different people
- Flying across the Atlantic is done for many reasons e.g. business,
holiday, visit relatives
- Some flights have unruly and disruptive passengers
- Passengers need looking after
- Cabin crew look after passengers
Then ask how can the solutions to the garden problem relate to the stated
For example -
- Is the mix of passenger down or only certain types? If yes, what can we do
to attract that type back onto the route?
- Are there peak and trough flights or are there times where passenger
numbers are steady? Why is that?
- Have our customer care (maintenance) scores dropped and why?
Looking at your problem through another lens may help you see it from another
Using different techniques, tools and methodologies for defining and solving
problems can increase productivity, improve team work and develop creative
thinking when used consistently.
As a leader/business owner take every opportunity to look at problems in
different ways and from different perspectives in order that you not only define
a problem correctly but that you create solutions that tackle the problem,
eliminate the problem or grow opportunities from the problem.
Problems in themselves can be opportunities and you should therefore view
them constructively. The idea is for you to get creative and outrageous.
"No problem can be solved from the same level of
consciousness that created it.
About the Author
Beverley Hamilton works with independent business consultants to help them
grow a profitable consultancy and still have time for their life.
You can get my Free Ecourse Discover the 5 Most Common Incorrect Assumptions
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-10-11 22:11:35 in Business Articles