Problem solving should not be difficult. The solution to every problem that has ever existed or will ever exist is already available.
You know this to be true because the solution to every problem that has ever been found becomes obvious once it has been found. It only needs to be thought of.
So why is it so difficult to see these obvious obvious. To answer this we need to look at how innovation in general works. After all this is the reason for solving problems in the first place, right?
There are three ways innovation occurs, add, combine or create. I guess you could include by accident but that is not something we can build a problem solving technique around. For the purpose of this discussion we’ll focus on the three we can control.
First let’s have a look at innovation by adding to an existing product or service. Innovation occurs when you take an existing product or service and make it better. For Example, the horse and buggy was replaced by the horseless carriage, the automobile. Now there is some debate whether this was an addition or a combination improvement. There are arguments for both sides and that’s ok. Often there is more than one of the three ways to innovate at play.
Second, innovation can occur by combining two or more unrelated things for a new purpose. The creation of the battery for example. The basic generation of electrical current by combining two rods of dissimilar metals and submerging them in an acidic liquid. Connect a wire from each rod with a light bulb and you will see the electrical current generated. This innovation has been improved upon countless times, where we can now access the world from anywhere with the battery powered smart phones we carry with is all the time and we have electric vehicles zipping us around towns.
Lastly innovation can occur from creating something totally new. The previous example of the battery can also fall into this category. By combining three ingredients in a new way, two dissimilar metal rods and some acidic liquid. something new, a battery was created. Yet a better example of innovation by creating something new is Velcro. Velcro was created from by a hunter named George de Mestral. While hunting, George and his faithful dog were constantly getting covered in those pesky cockle burs that cling to our clothes and dogs fur. George was tired of painstakingly removing them but was impressed by how well the cockle burs clung on. This inspired an idea, which became what we now know as Velcro. A billion dollar invention!
Damn I wish I thought of that!
If you noticed, there is one common component to all three ways to be innovative.
They all required nothing more than knowledge that already existed which was applied in a different way.
So there you have it, any problem you will ever face already has a solution just waiting for you to think of it. You have the knowledge you just need to know how to apply it in a different way.
Our mind organizes our knowledge through memories. For easy recall, it does so logically. All our accumulated knowledge is connected through our five senses. Any one of your senses can trigger a memory all all the knowledge we have related to that memory. A smell reminds you of a place, a taste, a sound, a touch or seeing someone or something can take you back to the moment that memory was created.
Conversations, more specifically words are a big triggers of memories. Words are powerful because they convey our knowledge and experiences easily. Through words we share our knowledge and pass it down through the generations.
So let us bring this full circle and tie it all together. Innovation results of solving problems. We know the solution to every problem becomes obvious after the solution is found. Which means the solution to every problem already exist, someone only needs to think of it. We also know that there are only three ways innovation can occur. Adding to something that already exist, combing two or more unrelated things for a new purpose or create a new thing that never existed before.
Best of all we each have all the knowledge needed already to solve any problem we face, we just need to think of it!
So how do you do that?
When we are faced with a problem, our mind searches for a logical solution. Because it looks for a logical solution automatically, it searched ll the knowledge and information we have available connected to that problem. Einstein famously said, “You can not solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem in the first place”.
This is were lateral thinking comes to the rescue. Lateral thinking takes you outside the box of knowledge and information you are logically sifting through and takes you into other unrelated boxes of information and knowledge you have, but would never look into because it is not logical.
If you want to develop your lateral thinking skills and be a better problem solver then grab my Lateral Thinking Mini Course. It’s free and it works!