When I was younger, I thought the best way to solve a problem was to set a time, lock myself in a room without all the distractions, use as many problem-solving tools as possible, and stay there until the problem was solved.

I see this approach a lot in movies. The main character brings himself to a remote place, spends some time there, and comes back with solutions. 

Yes, these heroes are solving problems like Moses. After a long retreat, they bring with them their ten commandments. 

This approach is one of my worst ways of solving problems.

Because I prefer to see, hear, and feel things. Solving problems in isolation makes me blind, deaf, and numb. 

Let me give an example for demonstration.

In isolation, I can spend time filling in a Business Model Canvas. All I need are post-it notes, ball pens, and nine boxes. Then, I can come up with products and services that I can sell. I will also be able to project what I can earn in six to nine months.

I can come up with as many variations of the canvas in two hours.

Many entrepreneurs start a business this way. They solve problems in isolation and come up with solutions based on assumptions.

There is another way.

I can get out of my room. Contact my previous clients. I will interview them to find out if I can help. 

What are the most significant employee problems you want to get rid of? How do you intend to solve it? Do you know need a solutions provider? Do you know anyone who can help you solve these problems?

I may ask them these questions and some more. 

The answers are not assumptions. They are real-world problems for my clients. And their companies are likely willing to spend money to eliminate those problems.

I may not be able to develop the best business model, but this is much better than isolating myself in a room to solve problems.

It does not mean that I cannot solve problems alone.

Many of the great ideas I developed I found when I was alone. 

I find opportunities while showering, walking, gardening, listening to podcasts, reading books, or enjoying a summer day on a beach. 

I often find solutions when I am not thinking hard about a problem.

Gardening taught me lessons that became the inspiration for my courses. My creative mind works well when my mind is not at the center of the problems. Or when I am not attempting to escape from it.

When I flow, I find.

But intently listening to others feeds my creative mind.

I farm every time I converse with people. I am not looking for problems. I am not expecting solutions too. But conversations often bring forth great ideas.

I learn when I talk to workshop participants.

I learn when I listen to conversations between people.

I learn from a quick chat with friends.

Solutions sprout.

And often, I find solutions to problems I have not seen before.

Experience the world.

So, if you are one of those who solve problems in isolation, I encourage you to try the alternatives. 

Get out of your room, see the world, talk to people, and sometimes, stop thinking about them.

Jef Menguin

P.S. If you want to solve problems in a room, try doing it with others. I promote Design Thinking as a problem-solving tool because I can solve problems with others.

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About The Author

Learning Opportunities

Be A Better Supervisor

I have been helping companies in the Philippines design programs for live workshops for supervisors. I run webinars and boot camps too.

So, please don't hesitate to get in touch. I will help you. We can help each other.

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