Creative Thinking and Problem Solving
Among all the talents, attributes, traits, and habits that make for a high- level team member, the ability to confront and creatively solve problems is right there at the top of the list. There is a unique process that may be employed to enable this kind of problem-solving. I call it “Zoom Theory.”
No, it has nothing to do with the popular telecommunications tool (which increased in popularity during the Covid pandemic). Rather it is intended to create a more structured way of understanding and addressing problems, obstacles, challenges, and opportunities.
Albert Einstein is credited with the following statement: “We cannot solve problems at the same level of thinking we used when we created them.” Addressing these problems constructively then is greatly aided by “Zooming in” and then “Zooming out.” Here’s an example.
Zooming in means to examine the details of the problem. It begins with a list of questions. How is this problem likely to affect the business? Who will be directly impacted? Have we faced similar challenges in the past and if so, how were they addressed (for better or worse)? Which factors were present in creating this problem and how can they best be understood? Was the problem created due to a systemic problem inside the business? Is this a cyclical problem or a structural one? Was it caused mostly due to people, product, or process? If people, is it attitude or aptitude that is the key contributor?
Zooming out requires us to see the “big picture” and think creatively in terms the overall magnitude of the problem itself. Does it pose a serious risk to the business and if so, how is this best quantified? Is this a problem that most every business is confronting or is it unique to our industry, profession, or enterprise? What is the potential impact of this problem over the near-term future of the organization? Are there people we can call upon to assist with framing and creatively confronting this problem?
If, as Einstein suggested, we cannot solve problems on the level at which they present themselves, zooming in and then out can help us frame problems in a way that makes it easier to understand their magnitude and their potential impact. That done, we are in a far better position to address the amount of time and resources we will put toward effectively addressing them.
For more information on ways to creatively address challenges, obstacles, issues, and problems, contact me at email@example.com or visit my website ajstrategy.com.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.