Are You Focusing on the Wrong Side of the Innovation Equation?

June 13, 2017

 

Want more innovative ideas? Focus more attention on the problem, rather than on the solution.

 

This article contains many good examples of how reframing the problem can lead to a variety of solutions -- and many will prove to be better than the solution on which we tend to get focused.

 

With my clients, I do a variation on the opening example in this article: "what is 5+5?" It's a simple example of how reframing the problem you are trying to solve can lead you from thinking of the one-and-only solution to a wide variety of solutions. In the real world, such reframing often leads to breakthrough thinking by jarring you out of unnecessary constraints.

 

There is another side to the challenge of problem framing, though...you can get too expansive as well. Using the 5+5 example: you can reframe that to "what two numbers add up to ten?" as in the article, and that gives you some appropriately expansive thinking. But you can go too far and say "what is the answer to a math problem?" and that gets so expansive to be of any use. There is an art to appropriate problem scoping. But, since most organizations tend to be too narrow in their focus, I think the emphasis on expansion is appropriate.

 

So how can you reframe problems that you are working on to drive better solutions?

 

A note to all of you quote sticklers like me out there: no, there's no evidence that Einstein ever really said anything like he is quoted as saying. The internet is full of such misinformation. It's a good pseudo-quote, though, so just go with it. It's not an article about citation accuracy, after all...

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