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Three Steps to Improving Entrepreneurial Problem Solving

April 06, 20243 min read

One of the biggest challenges of starting and growing a new business is the never-ending stream of problems. Having a constant supply of good ideas to address these problems can take time and effort. That's why many of the greatest entrepreneurs are also extremely creative. They don't look at problems in the same way as other people. They constantly test and discard ideas to find the ones that deliver the best results.

One of the biggest mistakes of new entrepreneurs, especially analytic types, is labeling themselves as "not creative." They don't think of themselves as a painter, poet, or musician and assume they don't have the "creative gene." They buy into the mythology that some people are born creative while others are not. Or they think creativity is some divine bestowment. For centuries, our ancient ancestors believed that all creative acts were delivered to mortals through the blessings of the gods, and the belief has somehow survived in the psyche of the populace. 

Another mistaken belief about creativity is that it is an event. Stories like Benjamin Franklin suddenly realizing lightning is electricity while flying a kite in a storm are misleading. They suggest that ideas arrive fully formed in an instant. A better story and a more accurate description of the actual creative process is Thomas Edison trying to invent the light bulb. He tried thousands of combinations for the filament before finally finding one that worked. Edison's process is much more aligned with how creativity actually works.

The truth is that there is more than one type of creativity. It's not just reserved for creative types with magical genes, and it is not being delivered by divine inspiration, nor is it a single event. 

Creativity is a process. It is more like a muscle that can be trained and grown over time with work and care. 

I have spent most of my adult life learning, studying, and working to improve my own creativity, and I have a three-step process that I use to come up with creative solutions to complex problems:

Step one: Go deep into the problem. Learn everything you can about it. What is the core issue? If the problem is complicated, there are more likely than not multiple contributing factors, but look for the one big core issue. If you could improve just ONE thing about the situation, what would it be? Ask yourself as many questions as possible about the issue until you are sure you understand the details.

Step two: Brainstorm potential solutions to the core issue. 

Do this by hand. Grab a paper and pen and write down every potential solution you can think of for the problem. Don't judge or discard ideas as unworkable or ridiculous; note them. They will form the basis of a solution in the next step.

Step three: In this step, you will sift and iterate the ideas you came up with in step two. Let your mind free-flow and make connections among the solutions. You will naturally start connecting, reforming, and discarding ideas while you move toward a solution, but take your time. 

Psychologists have formed a theory about the brain and how it processes information, called unconscious thought theory. It suggests that our minds can process information and make decisions without being aware. It's like having a hidden part of our brain doing work behind the scenes. So, even though we might not consciously think about something, our brain still works on it, influencing our actions and decisions. It explains why the adage of "sleeping on your problems" works so well. While you are sleeping, your mind is processing idea connections. It is searching for solutions that you cannot quite process with your conscious mind. 

And it's why you want to give yourself several sessions of thinking and brainstorming on complicated issues. Each subsequent session will take you closer to the solution that you need. 

If you want to supercharge your creativity and have it help take your business to the next level, consider my course, the Creativity Operating System. It is a science-based approach to improving your creativity to solve all of your entrepreneurial problems.

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blog image

Three Steps to Improving Entrepreneurial Problem Solving

April 06, 20243 min read

One of the biggest challenges of starting and growing a new business is the never-ending stream of problems. Having a constant supply of good ideas to address these problems can take time and effort. That's why many of the greatest entrepreneurs are also extremely creative. They don't look at problems in the same way as other people. They constantly test and discard ideas to find the ones that deliver the best results.

One of the biggest mistakes of new entrepreneurs, especially analytic types, is labeling themselves as "not creative." They don't think of themselves as a painter, poet, or musician and assume they don't have the "creative gene." They buy into the mythology that some people are born creative while others are not. Or they think creativity is some divine bestowment. For centuries, our ancient ancestors believed that all creative acts were delivered to mortals through the blessings of the gods, and the belief has somehow survived in the psyche of the populace. 

Another mistaken belief about creativity is that it is an event. Stories like Benjamin Franklin suddenly realizing lightning is electricity while flying a kite in a storm are misleading. They suggest that ideas arrive fully formed in an instant. A better story and a more accurate description of the actual creative process is Thomas Edison trying to invent the light bulb. He tried thousands of combinations for the filament before finally finding one that worked. Edison's process is much more aligned with how creativity actually works.

The truth is that there is more than one type of creativity. It's not just reserved for creative types with magical genes, and it is not being delivered by divine inspiration, nor is it a single event. 

Creativity is a process. It is more like a muscle that can be trained and grown over time with work and care. 

I have spent most of my adult life learning, studying, and working to improve my own creativity, and I have a three-step process that I use to come up with creative solutions to complex problems:

Step one: Go deep into the problem. Learn everything you can about it. What is the core issue? If the problem is complicated, there are more likely than not multiple contributing factors, but look for the one big core issue. If you could improve just ONE thing about the situation, what would it be? Ask yourself as many questions as possible about the issue until you are sure you understand the details.

Step two: Brainstorm potential solutions to the core issue. 

Do this by hand. Grab a paper and pen and write down every potential solution you can think of for the problem. Don't judge or discard ideas as unworkable or ridiculous; note them. They will form the basis of a solution in the next step.

Step three: In this step, you will sift and iterate the ideas you came up with in step two. Let your mind free-flow and make connections among the solutions. You will naturally start connecting, reforming, and discarding ideas while you move toward a solution, but take your time. 

Psychologists have formed a theory about the brain and how it processes information, called unconscious thought theory. It suggests that our minds can process information and make decisions without being aware. It's like having a hidden part of our brain doing work behind the scenes. So, even though we might not consciously think about something, our brain still works on it, influencing our actions and decisions. It explains why the adage of "sleeping on your problems" works so well. While you are sleeping, your mind is processing idea connections. It is searching for solutions that you cannot quite process with your conscious mind. 

And it's why you want to give yourself several sessions of thinking and brainstorming on complicated issues. Each subsequent session will take you closer to the solution that you need. 

If you want to supercharge your creativity and have it help take your business to the next level, consider my course, the Creativity Operating System. It is a science-based approach to improving your creativity to solve all of your entrepreneurial problems.

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