September Book Club Conclusion: Think Better

by Diane Wolf in Blog, Book Club
September 26, 2017 0 comments

September seems to have been particularly eventful this year. Here in Ontario, we finally have summer weather with temperatures soaring into the 30s Celcius… nicest weather we’ve had since June! In other parts of the world, extreme weather events are wreaking havoc and many, many people are suffering greatly. It can be very hard to keep that positive attitude and focus, so wherever you are in the world, I hope that you are able to find joy in the little things and not let the negative weigh you down.

If you are wondering why there was no email last week… I managed to destroy my computer, which was fairly new. And no, I won’t complain. Although it was a budget shock to replace it, I really can’t whine when people have lost so much to hurricanes and fires. But it did take me a week to replace it, so I just wrote that week off. It happens. I wasn’t able to do a podcast episode last week either, which was ironic, since I had recently done an episode on the importance of having backups for technology issues. Such is life.

So, today we conclude our study of Think Better. So much great material in this book! I will start by saying that the author notes that just learning about these techniques is not enough, we need to implement then regularly in order for them to change our thinking. Great point. It’s not about the knowledge, it’s about the application.

The six interlocking steps to betting thinking are:

  1. Explore what is really going on with the particular challenge you are facing. Don’t rush this step. Too often we THINK we know what the problem is, but we are only looking at the surface or the symptoms. What is happening that we think we need to change? What is the ‘itch’ or irritant in the situation? It’s important to generate a really long list of ideas without judging them. Remember, this is the generative, creative stage of thinking, and we need to suspend the desire to jump too quickly to critical thinking. Ask as many people as you need to for input here. Anyone who is directly involved should be asked for their opinions and ideas about what needs to change.
  2. Explore your vision of success. What will it look like when this challenge has been overcome? Where do you want to end up? How will you know when you are there? The more concrete your vision of success, the easier it will be to design the path to get you there.
  3. Ask the right question. Hurson suggests that often implementing a solution fails because it was a solution to the wrong problem. For example, if sales are down, you might ask “how can we get more customers?” But if the real problem is one of satisfying customers and having fewer returns, getting more customers won’t really help if they aren’t happy. A better question might be ‘how can we improve our delivery times and product quality so that our customers are happy and recommend us instead of returning their purchases.”
  4. Generate answers. Another brainstorming session where you put your creative thinking hats on and come up with many, many possibilities. Hurson talks about the ‘third third.’ He says that when people are coming up with answers, the first third of them are usually the typical ones that come to mind easily, and too often, people stop after that list. It’s after the silence that other ideas come up, and the best ones are often in the third third of the answers. The ones that come after much thought and perhaps combining other answers. This is where all sorts of ridiculous ideas are generated, and sometimes it’s one of those that is the best one. I love this quote by Thomas Edison: “I make more mistakes than anyone else I know. And, sooner or later, I patent most of them.” (page 160).
  5. Forge the solution. Now you put your critical thinking hat back on as you evaluate the ideas and choose the ones that seem most appropriate. Choose a list of criteria that your solution must include, and evaluate the ones that made the cut initially to find the best one. That’s where you formulate your plan. You don’t need to discard the other ideas, because sometimes you come back to them later, but you do need to choose a path. This is where people like me have trouble… we hate to pick one so we waffle. I loved the idea of having specific criteria by which to evaluate each idea. The one that fits the most criteria is the one you pick, unless you have some criteria weighted as more important than others; then, it’s the one with the highest score.
  6. Align resources. Now you figure out what you need to implement the plan and you put it all together. You need to figure out which tasks will need to be done to implement your plan, and who will be responsible for which. Each task needs to have someone who is responsible for either doing it or delegating it.

There is a lot more information in the book about each step, and also about the importance of maintaining a clear vision about where you are going. If this plan appeals to you, then you may want to study the book in more depth to actually use the steps, and I would highly recommend having the major players on your team also read this book so you are all working from the same philosophical base. Personally, I found the reminder to use creative thinking AND critical thinking sequentially, rather than simultaneously, to be the greatest takeaway for me.

I hope you have enjoyed our journey through this book. Next week is October, and we’ll be looking at The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. As always, if you know anyone who would like to join us, please share this link with them:

And, if you are interested in improving your presentation skills, check out my podcasts at Episode 7 was titled “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”.  You can also find the podcasts on iTunes by doing a search for Presentation Professor.

Have a great week!



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