In today’s fast-paced world, we’re constantly on the move. Our inboxes ping, our phones buzz, and our social media notifications never seem to end. With the world at our fingertips, we’re blessed with an abundance of information, tools to deepen our understanding, and the ability to collaborate seamlessly from anywhere.
But here’s the catch: this speedy, demanding world has inadvertently nudged us into a corner. While we’ve become adept at making decisions on the fly, we must ask ourselves: are these quick decisions always the best ones?
Tversky and Kahneman, the pioneers of behavioral psychology, pointed out that under time pressure, we often resort to shortcuts, like rules of thumb. This “rush to solve” mentality can sometimes prevent us from considering a decision in its entirety.
Decision-making is challenging. It forces us to confront our biases, question our past methods, and ultimately, make a judgment that will be labeled as “right” or “wrong.” Growing up, we learned that wrong answers get a red ‘X’ and right ones earn a green check. This ingrained fear of being wrong can sometimes cloud our judgment.
Kahneman and Tversky also highlighted a cognitive bias where humans tend to avoid decisions leading to loss, as the pain of loss feels twice as intense as the pleasure of gain. Add to this the pitfalls of confirmation bias and the availability heuristic, and you have a recipe for hasty, less-than-optimal decisions.
So, what’s the fallout? Often, we latch onto our first idea, as demonstrated by a 1991 study by Derek Jansson and Steven Smith called “Design Fixation.” This tunnel vision can prevent us from considering diverse perspectives, leading to solutions that might be efficient but not necessarily effective.
I’ve coined this the “problem-solution conundrum.” We often leap from identifying a problem straight to offering a solution, bypassing crucial steps in between. An impactful solution process should ideally involve:
- Identifying the problem
- Brainstorming potential solutions
- Implementing the chosen solution
- Monitoring and iterating
But how do we break free from this “rush to solve” mindset? The answer lies in having a structured process. Many of us shy away from brainstorming, thinking we’re not “creative” enough or that our ideas won’t significantly differ from others. Others feel the pressure of time constraints. Here’s how to tackle these challenges:
- Adapt and Learn: Instead of merely replicating what others do, learn from them and adapt their strategies to your context. For instance, while a 5-day brainstorming session might work for Google, a smaller firm might only need a condensed version of that. Identify the best practices and tailor them to your firm’s needs.
- Embrace a Brainstorming Framework: Brainstorming doesn’t require innate creativity; it requires commitment to a process. By following a structured approach, a team can collectively generate innovative solutions. Some popular frameworks include:
- Six Thinking Hats: A method by Edward de Bono where participants “wear” different colored hats representing varied thinking styles.
- SCAMPER: A technique that prompts participants to ask specific questions to generate innovative ideas.
- Reverse Brainstorming: Focus on worsening the problem to gain a fresh perspective on potential solutions.
- Brain Writing: A written version of brainstorming where ideas are passed around and built upon.
- How Might We: Transform challenges into questions, prompting innovative solutions.
Lastly, it’s essential to discern which challenges warrant a brainstorming session. Evaluate the magnitude and potential impact of the problem or opportunity. Depending on these factors, you might:
- Have a quick discussion with the leadership team, then decide
- Discuss with the leadership team, then delegate
- Brainstorm with your leadership team
To delve deeper into balancing the size and impact of decisions, CLICK HERE.
In conclusion, while the world might be moving faster than ever, it’s crucial for us, as advisors, to pause, reflect, and ensure our decisions are well-thought-out. Embracing brainstorming can be a game-changer, leading to more impactful and holistic solutions.