Have you ever been stuck on how to solve a problem? Recently I’ve been stuck on which topic to use for an ebook. I’ve got lots of titles in my mind and several actually started. Coming up with ideas is not my problem. If there were an idea store, mine would be full of inventory. I can picture all those ideas waiting on shelves to be manifested.
During my agency career, I had a wonderful opportunity to work with 3M. I learned that 3M scientists are able to spend a certain percentage of their time on research and development that is not associated with a product planned for production. So they get paid to spend time dreaming up ideas and tinkering with cool stuff. My kind of day!
What I further learned was that there are lots of potential products on the shelves of 3M. Even though there are many great ideas, it takes a carefully planned and concerted effort to get an idea into production. The scientist must be able to come up with a practical application for the idea and sell it to the leaders who make the decisions on products that go to market. Until then it is an idea on a shelf with no possibility of creating revenue. That is often the problem – how to take a great idea and turn it into something that is practical, creates value and generates revenue.
Do you have lots of ideas in your inventory and don’t know what to do with them? Here are a couple of steps I use when I need to solve a problem:
1. Sit still. I’ve had to learn this. As a person who likes to be busy and get things done, sitting still is not always easy. It is contrary to getting those ideas manifested. Yet when I do sit still with pen and paper in hand, answers start flowing into my mind. The key is to be willing to show up for the answers without knowing ahead of time what the answer will be.
2. Create space or time free of distractions. When I get up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. I can access answers that I can’t reach during the hectic day. One of my favorite places is in a comfortable chair by a window and looking out into our backyard. When I don’t get up as early, I often head out with my iPod and sit in a public place, tune out and think and write to come up with solutions.
2. Go for a walk. This is the opposite of sitting still of course. However, you will want to try different approaches to discover what works for you. Walking outside in fresh air is the best. Bonus points for you if you can get to a park or nature trail.
For a complimentary consultation on problem-solving, contact me and I will connect with you to schedule a phone appointment.
Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential.
© 2014 Kathy Garland