Archive for the ‘problem solving’ Tag

Marks on paper

See, the thing about drawing is that since we have so totally neglected it, when we put it to even the most tentative use now, we open floodgates.   On a very hot summer day, if you jump into a pool the shock of the coolness jettisons your awareness to another dimension.  Drawing can be like that. 

Very often when we seem to have issues they are actually not issues at all but limitations in our awareness.  New technologies prove that by imagining aides to everyday work – things that simply remove limitations – we can and do create them.  The same applies to lifestyles, beliefs, goals and concepts as well.  If any of these seem disjointed, out of whack, not-quite-perfect in whatever way, consider whether refreshing your awareness is what is required. 

Something’s wrong, hard to put your finger on it; or maybe it’s easy to name the problem but you’re stumped on its solution.  Rather than pronouncing the situation impossible, the factors unworkable, and the frustration of it all more than should be asked of an honest human being; rather than leaping to the conclusion that you’re being dealt with unfairly, take a small step back and sit down with a clean (or not-so-clean) piece of paper and writing tool, (pencil or pen or lipstick if necessary) and without forethought apply the writing tool to the paper and let it move.

Here’s a hypothetical example:  you have an appointment with a potential buyer whose interest in your product is lukewarm.  You wonder how to present your company in a way that will make this buyer take notice.  In addition to all the usual preparations (research them, prep irresistable informational materials, etc.) you also take five minutes to draw, to put your thinking in visual terms, to move your consciousness to a higher vantage point so you have more awareness at your disposal.

What do you draw in those five minutes?  The range of possibilities is infinite.  Perhaps you scribble aimlessly, just following the whims of intuition while thinking about your upcoming appointment.  The result will reveal where your concerns lie.  Or maybe you make a picture (and remember, this is not art!) of your potential buyer, and this will reveal your assumptions (which may or may not be true).  Or possibly you diagram the relationship between you and the customer, and include present and future schematics.  Looking at this product of your five-minute drill will most likely send you back to the drawing board with several brand new ideas.

It doesn’t matter what you draw.  I repeat, it doesn’t matter one iota what you draw.  The miracle is in the drawing.  The discovery is in making one mark, which leads to another, and another.  That’s all, but it’s enough to leverage your awareness to new levels of power and inspiration.

Doodle mania continues

One of the obvious and most exciting uses of creativity is in problem solving.  Artists are problem solvers and, if scrutinized even more finely, they are problem creators as well, but that’s another post.

When confronted with a problem – be it simple or profound – the human species uses native creativity to work through the barriers.  That is, when facing any issue, we call in our abilities to listen openly and synthesize spontaneously.

You can use your doodling to become intimate with this natural capability which you possess but seldom trust.  Keep a small bit of paper and pen next to you during work and let your hand dance with these instruments at moments throughout your day.   (Doodling in meetings can be a great way to keep proper perspective through the discussions.)   It’s best to use a pen rather than pencil, so you get past the concept of ‘making mistakes.’ 

As you look over your doodles, what problems do you see?  I do not mean problems with the ‘artistic quality;’ I mean, what parts of your doodles seem to want changing, modifying, extending, completing?  Go back and play just as instinctively with your ‘fixes’ as you did with the original mark-making.  Your pen just moves of its own accord.  If and when it stops moving, go on to a different doodle and return later to the first. 

It’s very important not to approach your doodles with anything remotely resembling a plan.  Both your fresh marks and your subsequent ‘problem-solving’ doodling must be entirely free form before they will reveal any new information to you.

And this information is not the only benefit of doodling, but it is key.  As you review your doodles, what insights do you have?  What does your very individual line say about who and where you are right now?  What new possibilities do your ‘problem solving’ marks suggest?  What kind of energy, courage, confidence, appreciation, etc. do your doodles manifest?  Save all these drawings as records of your life, your challenges, and the naturally brilliant ways you have of problem-solving.

Defining the problem

I attended a local Chamber of Commerce meeting yesterday instead of posting.  It was a worthwhile expenditure of time, in that I may have located one or two business leads.  It’s not easy doing that kind of cold networking, especially early in the morning, but it has its rewards.  One’s daily routine becomes so entrenched that an unusual schedule seems an imposition.

It’s pathetic, really.  We cling so fondly to who we think we are, but the reality is that we can become someone different with the tiniest effort.

Jen at IdeaSpace wrote yesterday about solving problems.  The best way to locate new solutions when you’re stumped is 1) figure out a new way to define the problem and 2) realize the lens through which you normally view the problem and look at it through a new and different lens.  In other words, do not take your perceptions and definitions for granted!  They can change – and very fast, if you’re open to it.  Start with the foundation when faced with a difficult challenge: take plenty of time to define the problem from every angle before rushing in with tried and untrue quick fixes.

The group I joined yesterday morning is composed of traditional thinkers, for the most part.  Will have to try to rattle some cages as we continue to meet.