I just read about a terrific technique for getting unstuck when you're facing a seemingly insurmountable problem: Ask five "why" questions. From Fast Company Now:
- 5 why's exercise:
1. Identify an issue with which you're currently struggling (e.g. I need to let this person go, I need to increase the sales on this product).
2. Form it into a "why" question (e.g. why haven't I let this person go yet?, why do we have trouble selling this product?)
3. Brainstorm answers with others (inside and outside your organization).
4. For each answer ask another why question (e.g. we have trouble selling this product because the price point is too high - leads to - why have we kept the price point so high?)
5. Continue this process until you've asked (and satisfactorily answered) at least 5 why's.
6. Obvious answers are often the easiest to miss.
Anyone who's ever dealt with a little kid has probably been through this routine a bunch of times (and had our ignorance over stuff like why the sky is blue laid bare), but how often do we ask the "why"s behind our work? How often do we do this when we're in a brainstorming session, or any kind of session, for that matter? This sounds so simple, but it works amazingly well. Why? Funny you should ask...