June  2005     Edition 2
The #1 thing

The #1 thing when solving a Headscratcher

is your unwavering belief that a satisfactory solution exists, that is, “There is always a way”.

Example Headscratcher

: “Reduce the cost of customer care by 25% while increasing customer satisfaction”. In this example we’ll touch on the Headscratcher element of “Association”. However first back to the #1 thing!


: Start with the assumption that there IS a satisfactory solution, even though you don’t know what it is, or how you would get there. However, you and your team WILL figure it out. The solution IS out there, and there is a way to make it happen.

Beware of filled buckets!:

Recall the enthusiasm of a new employee to tackle the toughest problems and an optimism of “we’ll figure it out”. Over time however, most people pick up “baggage”, with experiences that include false starts, un-accomplished goals, and barriers, subsequently jeopardizing their confidence, conviction, and drive. Optimism has digressed to skepticism. Their “bucket” for tolerance, willingness to forge ahead against the wind, and lead in the face of the unknown and difficultly, is “filled up” … and there is no room in a filled bucket for innovation.

Give the Speech:

Ask people to empty their buckets. Remind them of their first days at the company when they had the energy and optimism for accomplishing new things. Lead with the assumption that “a solution exists, we can find it, and we will implement it”, THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY! Hint: Give yourself the speech first … your bucket must be empty in order to inspire others to empty theirs.


: Once buckets are empty, and belief in some future yet unknown solution exists, you and your team can be open to innovation and at “Associations”. In the above example, this is the relationship between reducing cost and increasing customer satisfaction. Look for common elements between “cost” and “customer satisfaction”. One such example is the “ease of getting an answer”. This “association” can lead to a lot of good headscratching around automation, which is just one of several solutions.
The Takeaway
: Innovative solutions to Headscratchers require open minds, empty buckets and a tenacious belief that a satisfactory solution exists. The environment during headscratching may be filled with ambiguity, uncertainty, unknowns, and sometimes risk, as opposed to an immediate clear and certain path. Therefore it is critical that the driving force behind you and your team is the confidence and conviction that “There Is Always A Way.”

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Critical Thinking Techniques for Problem Solving, Decision Making, Innovation and Leadership.
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