Creative problem solving: To Disney and beyond
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
Photo credit: Brian McGowan on Unsplash
Are you stuck?
Have you been racking your brains trying to work out what to do to fix a problem affecting your customers, business performance or your team?
Or maybe you've reached a point in your personal or professional life where you aren't sure what you can do to move forward?
Einstein once said "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
So why do we spend hour after hour, in meeting after meeting, talking about the issues we face and continuing to do so through the lens of learned experience and common assumptions?
We hear others (and sometimes ourselves) responding to ideas shared by others with "That'll never work" or "We tried that a few years back and it didn't work".
We succumb to groupthink for fear of saying the wrong thing or making a fool of ourselves, reaching consensus and often a less than optimal outcome and decisions on the next steps we should take.
So what should we do?
The problem you see may not tell the whole story. Before you start to work on solutions, clearly define the problem by asking some searching questions.
Investing time and effort now to explore the issue further can mean avoiding wasted time later pursuing dead ends and red herrings which have no impact upon the situation you are trying to improve.
There are numerous problem solving and decision making tools and models around that can be useful.
Initially, using the 5 Whys method can be very effective in getting to the root cause of a problem.
Once the problem has been defined, using a Design Thinking approach can help to generate multiple ideas for consideration. It's crucial to have a carefully written question to inspire your team (or you) to come up with and share ideas.
At this stage, without careful management of the creative process, we may share ideas only others discount them immediately or we may do the same to others' ideas. Doubting our own ability or fearing the judgement of others, we may fail to offer up ideas and engage in cerebral clay pigeon shooting.
This is where the Disney method is a useful framework. Following this process separates the problem solving process into district phases - Dreamer, Critic and Realist - with a specific focus for each. It also prevents ideas from being critiqued at the point they are shared.
Once the ideas have been generated, they can be assessed and evaluated using the different lenses or perspectives provided by the Six Thinking Hats methodology in the Critic and Realist phases.
That's all well and good, but where do I start?
"Let's talk about X" brainstorming is often chaotic, unstructured and unproductive. Taking the time to plan and facilitate the creative process using the methods discussed can lead to breakthroughs you'd otherwise miss out on.