3 CREATIVE WAYS TO SOLVE PROBLEMS

What if today you get a magic wand with which you can solve all your problems! Well, you and I know that’s just a wish. However, there are some not-so-magical yet effective ways to solve problems. Even those that seem unsolvable, a little bit of creativity may unwrap the right solutions.

Sometime back, while traveling by train, I saw someone solving a major problem so brilliantly. It was hot and humid inside the crowded compartment. To make matters worse, the fan that was right above our section wasn’t working. Someone tried “repairing” the switch but the problem remained the same. People felt tired and angry.

Then one guy had a brilliant idea. He took a ball pen out of his pocket and stood up. He raised his pen toward the fan, skilfully put it through its frame and began to rotate its leafs. Hurrah! The fan began working! We had a wonderful time during the rest of the journey – all because one got creative in solving the problem when the traditional solution didn’t work.

As a leader, you probably deal with a bunch of problems on a daily basis. Some of them may be the usual, mundane issues that you know very well how to deal with. But there would be some which test your patience and strength. That is where ingenuity can come to your rescue. Here is a list of three such creative ways.

1. Take an objective look

Usually we tend to look at problems subjectively. Though it may seem appropriate, one of the major issues with this approach is that when we are under pressure, the problems we deal with look bigger and insurmountable. So a better way is to look at it objectively.

How do you handle a problem objectively? It takes a little bit of imagination (Yes, I know it’s not easy. Remember, we are talking about creativity here. Creativity heavily depends on imagination). Imagine that the problem you are dealing with is NOT your problem but somebody else’s. Look at it as if you are an Expert Consultant roped in to solve the issue.

Now, the moment you start thinking like this, the pressure that was on you previously begins to fade and rationale gets on to the stage. All your skills and abilities as a leader begin to come alive in order to help that “somebody”. You begin to think, evaluate, imagine, dissect and consolidate ideas and insights.  This is where you will get a clearer picture of the situation. That helps you to begin the process of solving the problem.

2. Give ear to diverse voices

Not only that you decide to look at the problem objectively, but you may also ask others, including those outside of the problem domain, for their feedback and input. This is another creative way to solving problems.

For example, if I have a problem with recruiting someone for a PR position, I may seek help from those in the same profession that I am in. But I can also ask for feedback from folks who are from very different professional backgrounds.

When I am the only one trying to come up with a solution, even if I have brilliant ideas, I am still limited in my creative thinking. One smart way is to ask others, even those outside of the problem domain, for their views and insights. All of them may not be able to provide the ‘right’ solution. But my readiness to listen to diverse voices does create a helpful database of surplus ideas.

Yes, there would be different suggestions, even few conflicting ones. However, the good news is, you have a whole lot of viewpoints and insights. If somebody calls this a ‘problem’, I call it a “positive problem”! Abundance of good is never a real problem, lack is.

With so many ideas, suggestions, view points and insights about the issue that you are dealing with, it is now all the more easier to find the best solution.

3. Check the price point

Another creative way to solving problems is to evaluate the price point attached to it. If the price point is high, that means it demands major action. But if the price point is low, it can be dealt with without much ‘sweat and tears’. And if the price point is almost insignificant, you may leave the problem alone.

The problems that we deal with are like getting into a fight. Any fight that we get into must be worth fighting for. Some fights are just trivial stuff to side-track us. It’s not really worth fighting. But there are some fights that decide our destiny. These are the ones worth fighting.

Ask this question to yourself: “What does it cost me (including my family, team, etc.) if I don’t solve this specific problem?” Really think about it. If the answer is, “Nothing much. To be frank, almost none”, then leave the problem as it is. Not every problem deserves your utmost attention. In fact, sometimes the best solution is to leave it alone.

However, if your answer is, “It’s a heavy price”, then you have to deal with it. You may need to enlist the help and support of others, chart out a plan, and move into action.

There was a time when I used to handle every problem equally. That was almost a disaster! Then I saw some smart people handling problems creatively. That made sense, and it wasn’t disastrous. Moreover, it created better solutions – creative solutions, of course 😉

Q: What are some of your creative ways to handling problems?