We all live and experience different circumstances at different times. Most of the time, we tend to avoid common mistakes while we carry out daily activities. It would be madness to journey down a path where a predefined self-destructive outcome exists and consistently persist while expecting a different result with each new attempt. But this is what a lot of people find themselves doing without knowing.
If history presented us with similarities to all the problems we face today, no one would make a mistake again having learned from previous examples. Madame Curie who takes responsibility for generating the Radioactivity theory, unwittingly also discovered how the radioactivity would fatally affect her health. Because of the discovery of one scientist, millions of lives have been saved, and many more scientists like her have learned never to repeat her mistake.
Since we look to the lessons from other people’s past experiences, we cannot always find the solution to the problems we often face. Primarily because it would likely take us too long to find a similar example to learn from. Getting out of that comfort zone and being creative in your approach to solving problems is like working blind. You are tackling a problem you cannot see. You talk about it, discuss it with friends and colleagues, see it and try to solve all of it by understanding the components that you can see. When this continues, for too long, you enter a rut, you begin to see the same old problem and you continue to offer the same old solution.
But, what happens when you need to generate a new solution, to innovate? One thing you have to master is changing how you see the problem. So, how then do you define any problem you want to solve? Take any problem you have to try to see it differently than you already have. Ask yourself: It is an issue of time management? Do I have to prioritize differently? What existing technology can I use to meet the currently existing demands? Or do I have to educate myself some more before I can solve the problem?
There may be lapses in your understanding. If you don’t understand how every fragment of the problem can be tackled, you will be left with a half-baked solution with little impact in the application. To generate a fresh approach to an existing issue you need to start using new tools and new tricks. If you board a train to go somewhere, you will arrive at your destination within a specified time frame. You can’t keep boarding the same train and expect to reach two times faster than you usually do. Taking a plane or a different means of transportation can guarantee a change in the expected time of arrival.
Whenever a new solution is required, the ideal thing to do (whether you’re stuck or not) is to change your perspective. This might mean glancing at new visuals, by asking yourself or other people different questions, or by simply using a different tool. Some problems are often too stubborn to solve through one single approach. But if the approach is changed, they will be more likely to be addressed. This is because, by using a different approach, you eliminate the need for using an abundance of unhelpful solutions and you steer yourself to the right solution by doing so. Sticking to one solution and desiring a solution limits you from trying out a large number of viable solutions.
Changing the approach and changing perspective can work for any number of problems and in any field of interest. Here’s a simple example. The players of a school football team have been underperforming in recent games. Now, how have you defined this problem? Have you made progress since you started out? How else can you redefine it to get the desired outcome? Maybe the team players have not been putting in enough individual effort and required more training? Maybe the coach needs more support in planning? Maybe the players aren’t mentally ready to face their opponents and lack the confidence to secure several wins? Maybe the players are not united and do not have good teamwork and have differences amongst them?
Take consideration and see how the problem will change if it were tackled from any of the above alternate problem definitions. How would teamwork be affected if some of the players were substituted? How would player’s devotion be affected if the coach was changed? Would the players be better motivated when they have more privileges? Are there books I can read on the matter?
Not every problem will be solved the same way. For instance, you cannot solve a lot of problems by simply throwing money at them. While money cannot solve every issue, money can help you hire a housekeeper, a nanny, an office assistant, a new coach, etc.
This approach can be used to solve business problems too. Restructure your business problem as a sales problem, a marketing problem, development issue, work ethic problem, core values problem, staff replacement, etc. Sometimes you will discover that multiple-perspective solutions can provide the best option. This is why when we get stuck, we often seek extra people to think about the issue at hand, to offer a fresh perspective on the entire issue. You will see that there exist up to three or four individual perspectives which are not sufficient by themselves but will work fantastically when combined.