The era of creativity is over
Pure creativity is no longer what makes you successful as an entrepreneur on the long run. Don't get me wrong, creativity is what we all want to exercise and master. We all want to tap into that genius of ours and execute a vision and form our environments and our lives. But the time when being successful was just a matter of having new ideas, is over.
A symptom of our time
I haven't written articles for my post for about a year. I was busy giving seminars, trainings and coaching for leaders, managers, and students. I am still doing that, but what prompted me to get back were 1) the wonderful feedback I received for previous posts and 2) the value I saw in my experiences for others, trainers and leaders.
The one thing I noticed is that most people do not have trouble finding or generating ideas. In other words, creativity as the art and skill of generating new thoughts, concepts and content, is not something people don't have, it is something they don't know how valuable it is and how to utilize their mind effectively and strategically to a definite benefit or end.
The trouble people have is not about finding innovative thoughts and ideas, they are often overwhelmed and confused by their own thoughts and their intense problem-oriented focus. They don't see the bigger picture because they are too invested in the problem.
How do you think clearly? If you are confronted with a problem how do you go about the solution strategically? Most people don't have answers for this. They see a problem and they either jump to
intuitive solution (which works out in most cases) or they get frustrated because they don't know an immediate fix.
Especially in our age of social media, communicating clearly and effectively is more important than ever before. However, in order to be able to do that, you have to have clarity for yourself.
The following catalogue of questions can help you to improve your problem-solving skill and to think clearly. It won't be helpful for all situations, but in a business context, this is how you learn how to think. Remember, you want to spend major time on the solution part!
Marc's 10 questions to think clearly about problems:
1. What is the problem?
Most have difficulty identifying the core problem and they try to treat minor symptoms instead of giving a proper diagnosis.
2. How does the problem look like?
Naming a thing and being able to describe the thing are two very different things, and it is necessary not to skip this question.
3. Where does the problem occur; what areas/dimensions/factors are affected?
Get a scope of the problem.
4. How does the problem affect the different areas/dimensions/factors?
Here you get a broader understanding for the different appearances of the same problem.
5. What caused or causes this problem?
The cause is different from the effects. Here you receive clues for a long-term solution rather than a short-term quick-fix.
6. What is the cost of not fixing the problem?
Think about what happens if the problem remains there and what the consequences will be.
7. What solutions are there?
You want to spend major time on this question and research beyond the boundaries of your industry and your own perspective and background of knowledge.
8. What advantages and disadvantages do these solutions have?
It's basically a way to get a better understanding of the different solutions. Think about effectiveness, areas of impact, practicality, resistance, applicability, long-term results, long-term cost, and short-term results, and short-term cost.
9. Which solutions do solve the problem(s) effectively and which don't?
Now it's time to choose the best options which should not be too difficult if you have done your homework. Remember, you don't have to pick only one or two, but the best combination you can find.
10. What are the effects the solutions will bring about and what can you anticipate in terms of change and steps of implementation?
This question steers you to an action-oriented perspective of going about solving the problem.
A note for the creative
If you feel like the questions are too rigid and in fact boring to some extent, that is because they are. And the reason is, these questions make your mind slow down a bit, but if you begin to
answer them, you will begin to see that there are new thoughts and ideas you have not considered before but that are highly relevant to whatever you try to accomplish.
I don't want you to give up your spontaneity or your intuition, but I want you to improve your skill of clarity, because it brings you closer to what you want.
About the author
Marc Breetzke, M.A., M.A.,
founder of MB Inspirations is trainer, coach, and consultant for communication skills, leadership development, and personal development. Based in Germany, he works with entrepreneurs, managers, executives, and students from various industries and backgrounds.
He grew up in Germany, moved to Rome where he learned Italian, and then studied Strategic Communication and Linguistics at a top university in Germany. Then, Marc moved to the USA for a year to teach, study, and write.
His clients say his intelligence, broad and specific knowledge, compassion, humor, laser-sharp clarity, and years of practical experience make him a top ally for you and your team.