I only need to stretch myself to find a solution when I really experience something as a problem. That sounds logical. But if that is so, why do we often begin to brainstorm without first understanding the underlying problem? Why do we often work at improving work processes before, together with all stakeholders, seeking the reason for this improvement?

Only when we experience something as a problem, we are willing to really find a solution! A few examples:

Creativity session

Late last year, I facilitated a brainstorm session with 25 participants. The question was: how can we submit the winning bid, and then also perform the project profitable. By doing this project the existing way would certainly fail. Important was to ensure initially that everyone would have the same picture of the situation and this situation would be seen as a problem. Given the size of the group we formed five mixed subgroups, each of them were mandated to make a SWOT analysis of the situation. By using the mind mapping form the participants were stimulated to associate further on found themes. The five SWOT’s were then presented to each other, after which, with the aid of stickers, was determined which were the most important weaknesses and threats.

SWOT templateThe main effect was of course that all participants were aware of the need to really think about solutions. Thus a solid foundation was laid  for the actual brainstorm.

Lean Process Mapping

Process MapIn my book on process mapping I make a difference between the ‘as is’, ‘should be’ and ‘could be’ situation. To obtain the commitment of those involved in the process mapping session the ‘as is’ situation is of great importance. Some months ago I facilitated a session at a manufacturing plant. Using sticky notes and five meters of brown paper, the participants mapped the current process. As the picture became clearer, the participants were becoming more quiet. They literally saw where it went wrong and even those who did not see the need to change until that moment were now willing to think about improvements.

Wicked problems

But what if the problem is too complex and difficult to grasp? Then we are talking about wicked problems. The linear approach is not working here and THE solution does not exist. Problems only become clear by working on possible solutions and thereby come a step further. Actually, our brain works so that in everyday situations it sees several solutions before we become aware that there is a problem.

Dialogue MapWicked problems call for an approach that provides a common vision, common understanding and with commitment. I.e. Dialogue Mapping is a shape that fits. This way of working also ensures that a discussion passes into a dialogue. The result is a wider view and deeper understanding.