Thinking in solutions as an agile attitude (using ice cream as an example)

Thinking in solutions as an agile attitude (using ice cream as an example)
Imagine you are licking ice cream out of a cone. The ice cream melts, runs over your hands and makes its way towards your clothes.

The problem as an ice cream metaphor
Let's assume you were in "problem mode." In this, you would try to explore the causes of the problem, analyze the problem situation, and perhaps regret and lament your problem. So, with sticky hands, you would consider how air temperature and ice cream consistency relate to each other, whether the same problem would have occurred with other types of ice cream, in other places, under other circumstances, why you wanted to eat ice cream outdoors in the greatest heat of all times, and whether the ice cream vendor or global warming might not be to blame for your misfortune. Meanwhile, the ice melt has reached your clothes and your shoes. The ice cream is gone, and so is the pleasure. What's left is anger, dirt and dissatisfaction, possibly a resolution for next time.

And this is how it looks in a professional context
You think this picture is overdrawn? In professional life, we often encounter such behavior as a "problem trance" - a mental state of paralysis. Individuals, teams, departments can become trapped in it by focusing exclusively on a problem and its apparent unsolvability. This consumes so much energy that there is none left for things that would move the company forward. Often, such problem trances paralyze entire parts of a company. Triggers can be, for example: Internal conflicts, structural problems, conflicting objectives, lack of communication, etc.

Ice cream fun as a solution
When focusing on solutions, the problem trance is replaced by the idea of the desired state. In our ice cream example, this could be: Undisturbed ice cream enjoyment with as little ice cream loss as possible. This attitude would probably come easily to any of us in this example. To achieve this goal, use resources that would be available to you right now (a helping hand, a napkin, etc.). However, when the problem is more complex, your own advantage of a solution is not so obvious, or you feel you cannot solve the problem on your own or at all, this attitude becomes much more difficult. 
In our spotlight workshop "Thinking in solutions as an agile mindset", you can experience the difference between problem and solution focus in a very practical way and get inspiration as well as tools on how to help yourself and others to adopt a solution-oriented mindset. 

To tide you over until the next workshop date, here are a few tips:

  • Consider how far you want to go in a problem analysis and when the switch to finding a solution should happen.
  • If you find yourself asking "Who's to blame?" consider instead "What do I want to be instead of the problem?" or "What do I want to accomplish?"
  • If you're stuck on your own, get help and/or look to others for inspiration. What have others done in these situations? Who might be able to help you? Who has a sympathetic ear for your concerns?

Getting a taste for it? If you want more solution focus in your life, I invite you to try the above and attend the next Spotlight Workshop.