And it feels good!
I recently signed up for the first oversees Master in Creativity & Change Leadership, organized by the State University of New York, Buffalo. The year-long program started with an intensive 2-weeks summer course in ‘s Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, hosted by the King William College. And it really felt like going back to school. My Italian roommate and I biked to school each morning, we ate our lunch at the school mess, and dutifully made our homework at night. The content of the lessons was a little less school-like : we learned the basics of creative problem solving at an excruciating speed, and put them into practice using our own personal challenges. That was very special. I can tell you that it feels completely different from experimenting on a business challenge. The result of the exercises is that I – or rather we – have come up which such a multitude of options and suggestions for solving my challenge, that I have no more excuses in my pocket not to execute them. I told our professor : “I might come to hate these tools ;-)”.
It illustrated very well that often, when trying to solve our challenges, we don’t look beyond the very obvious. We usually come up with a couple of ideas, put them into practice and then decide that it still doesn’t work. But have we addressed the right question? What if you formulated your challenge in a different way, or better said, in 50 different ways? What if you asked yourself 20 times “Why do you want to solve this challenge?” and 20 times “What’s stopping you?”. I can assure you that after 15 times you come up with totally different answers than after the first couple of times. Which then in turn gives you a lot more options for formulating solutions.
It re-emphasized for me that making yourself familiar with the principles, tools and techniques of creative problem solving reaches much further than only the business context. It makes you a broader, fuller, richer person.