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7 Deadly Thinking Traps


pollyannaish

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Have you ever been working on a problem -- a product, service, process, strategy -- and suddenly someone else comes up with the solution, one that stops you dead in your tracks, makes you slap yourself on the forehead, and ask "Why didn't I think of that?"

There may be some good reasons. Whenever I teach workshops or facilitate a problem solving team, I start with a simple 10-minute warm-up problem based on a real case, like this one, which you're welcome to try:

You own an upscale neo-luxury health club. As part of the membership perks, each of the 40 shower stalls is stocked with an bottle of very expensive, salon-only shampoo. The customers love it and rave about it. The front desk sells the bottles. Unfortunately, bottles disappear from the showers all the time. In fact, theft rate is 33 percent, presenting a costly situation. You’ve tried reminders, penalties and incentives to try and reduce theft, but nothing has worked. You want the problem solved, but there are some constraints: (1) you cannot discontinue or alter the shampoo offering in any way – one bottle of the current brand per stall must not change; (2) theft must be 100 percent eliminated; (3) you can't spend any money; and (4) no additional burden on the patron.



There are a couple of solutions, but that's not the point. The point is that nine times out of 10, the solution isn't found inside the 10 minute mark. I've watched hundreds of teams work and listened to their best ideas, and I've discovered seven thinking traps, one or more of which are usually to blame for not finding a solution with the maximum effect through minimum means.

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Worth reading the whole thing.

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This is a great article relating to all kinds of problem solving, but I was also thinking about it in relationship to politics.

 

My observations:

 

1. It is important to take TIME when thinking about solutions. Rushing often leads to more problems. Obviously there are times when things must be done rapidly to avoid catastrophe...but our culture has become so "instant" (especially in business) that things are implemented far too quickly and without enough time invested in analysis. We can change this.

 

2. In politics, those of us who are on one side of the spectrum or another may immediately leap to a "Well what a bunch of idiots" response to a particular solution from the other side. We need to slow down and figure out for ourselves WHY it is a bad idea...not just reflexively respond. Without that step in the process, we will never make progress in fighting back bad ideas...or avoiding implementing our own.

 

3. These principles can also reply to our every day relationships, the way we manage our finances and how we raise our children. We do not put enough of a premium on slowing down and "thinking things through" in our culture these days. Instead, we act and react and exhaust ourselves before any real work is done.

 

Anyway, loved this. And H/T Mom. :)

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Thanks for posting this Pollyannaish!

 

Great and thoughtful read.

 

I guess that my solution of putting exploding red marker dye in the bottom of the bottle wasn't the best solution after all.

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Thanks for posting this Pollyannaish!

 

Great and thoughtful read.

 

I guess that my solution of putting exploding red marker dye in the bottom of the bottle wasn't the best solution after all.

 

 

Ha! It certainly wasn't the cheapest...but it might have worked.

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Pollyannaishshout, this article answered all the questions I have about my housekeeping: "Why? because our brains are wired to add, hoard, store, accumulate." :bag:

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Insightful article, and near and dear to my heart. My profession is process trouble-shooting and improvement.

 

My comment as far as the workplace is concerned is the tendency to "throw a team" at issues in the belief that more minds are better, when one or two capable individuals can often come up with a viable solution and implement it much faster and effectively than a team can. As lean as manufacturing has come to be in my field, I typically don't go to a meeting unless provided a compelling reason. There is a term called "paralysis by analysis." Basically, it's over-thinking into stagnation, especially when groups are involved. Snap decisions may not always be optimal, but they are often effective. I will say that the more often you make snap decisions, the better you are at making them. I make snap decisions daily to get the job done, but almost always there's reflection on how I could improve the decision, how I can go back to correct or improve what I implemented earlier, and how I would do it better when put in that same situation in the future. The big grain of salt, though, is that when I usually have a problem at work, I'm making scrap costing significant money. Not exactly conducive for making a fishbone diagram.

 

P.S. My solution to the shampoo bottles of the top of my head would be to use permanently fixed soap dispensers in the showers, where the product could be advertised and not readily stolen. Minimal cost (breaking rule number 3), but fast payback. :)

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