Tag: alternative thinking

Exploring The Givens

Whether at home or at work, we tend to focus on things around us that are changing, or that are connected to our own actions, because that is where much of the information that matters to us tends to be located. Life is much simpler if we filter out things that appear to be unchanging or irrelevant. Occasionally we must explore the givens.

But when the ‘stable, irrelevant background’ contains important information, this simplification breaks down. Many ‘problems’ become ‘problematic’ because the background contained potentially important information we did not notice until it was too late.

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Breaking Mindsets

Most, if not all of us have either a fixed way of doing things or a fixed way of thinking about things. These fixed patterns are known as mindsets and they can severely limit our actions in both business and private life. Imagine that you take the same route each day when you walk to your place of work. Each day you buy the same newspaper and the same sandwich for lunch. Over time you begin to get a little fed up with your choice of sandwich and the newspaper does not seem to engage you as it once did.

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Examining Business Boundaries

Many business owners think of their business in terms of what they do on a daily basis e.g. farmers milk cows, printers print brochures and jewellers make jewellery. A better way of thinking about your business is to ask the question ‘what is it (of value) that I create and who helps me to do this?’ We should be examining business boundaries. Any other person or business that helps you in terms of creating value, and hence money for your pocket, is in fact an extension of your business.

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Solving Multi Layered Problems

multi layered problemsWhat is a multi layered problem?

I can hear some readers saying to themselves ‘but I have not got any multi layered problems’. Well have I got news for you (sorry for the plagiarism there). Most problems bar the very simplest are multi level. Asking ‘Why’ over and over again is considered to be an alternative or creative technique for investigating issues. Let us consider the following scenario from a medium sized business.

Initially there are reports that sales are not as good as forecast and so the spotlight falls on the sales force. There are cries to sack and replace salesmen but one thoughtful soul begins to ask why? The following scenario unfolds:

  • Our salesmen are rubbish. Why?
  • Sales are falling. Why?
  • Our product range is out of date. Why?
  • There is no commitment from the boss. Why?
  • The boss has no time. Why?
  • The boss has time management issues.

So you were ready to sack your sales force. But all you really needed to do is to send the boss on a time management course or perhaps get him a secretary to help with his workload.

Solving multi layered problems

Firstly, we have discovered that the initial problem and possible solution are quite a way apart. We have revealed a multi layer problem. Just like the zipper in the picture above or a deep wound, the multi layered problems we encounter must be solved a layer at a time and from the bottom up. Solving the boss’s time management issues will not suddenly make sales leap up but it will allow he/she to devote more time to new products. This will in turn lead to increased sales (if these issues are properly addressed).

And the moral of the story? Solving complex problems requires a little more effort and the problem you initially see is not necessarily the one that needs solving!

New Year’s Resolution – Set Out To Break Mindsets

breaking mindsetsWhat Is A Mindset?

Most, if not all of us have either a fixed way of doing things or a fixed way of thinking about things. These fixed patterns are known as mindsets and they can severely limit our actions in both business and private life.

Imagine that you take the same route each day when you walk to your place of work. Each day you buy the same newspaper and the same sandwich for lunch. Over time you begin to get a little fed up with your choice of sandwich and the newspaper does not seem to engage you as it once did. If you had turned right at the end of your road instead of left you would have been introduced 6 months ago to a brand new shop that had a larger stock of newspapers and magazines and also a more impressive selection of sandwiches, filled rolls, cakes (and salads for the health conscious). Unless a friend or colleague tells you of this new opportunity you will remain blissfully unaware of it. Just think of the new opportunities and new faces if you varied your walk to work on a weekly basis!

Is This Relevant To My Business?

So what has this got to do with your business? Well take a long look at yourself and the people that you work with. Do you advertise in the same way all of the time? Maybe you make exactly the same products every day? Have you ever tried anything different to improve your business. Or do you do the same as you have always done? A simple change of perspective or attitude may be all that is required. Even if your business is successful, you would be interested in new business opportunities, wouldn’t you?

The effects of mindsets can be greatly exaggerated when working alone and we all need to make an effort to overcome this. Note that changes you make in your working life will affect your private life and vice versa.