Protip: Have a Negativity Session

Did you know that “problem-minded” people are better problem solvers? It turns out, the longer you spend thinking about the problem, the simpler the solutions that present themselves.

Usually, when people talk about being “problem-minded,” they’re talking about having a negative outlook. And that’s one way. But it’s not helpful. To actually solve problems, you have to face them, understand them, and interrogate them. Discuss what makes it a problem and how it works.

For example, if you’re the Phoenix Suns, and you’re thinking “LeBron James is a problem for us,” and you leave it at that, all you end up doing is worrying. But, if you start breaking down LeBron and his game, to find out what about him makes him hard to guard, you start discovering specifics. No longer is it a big, emotional unknown that we can’t do anything about, but it becomes an objective list of realities, some of which can be remedied.

To nerd out on this, start here: Shaw, M. E. “Some Effect of Problem Solution Efficiency in Different Communication Wills.” Journal of Experimental Psychology 48 (1954).

Next time you’re up against a “wicked” problem, get with some people and explore the problem. Here’s the rule: you’re not allowed to talk about solutions. You talk about the problem and why it’s a problem over and over again. Don’t be afraid to found its boundaries. Be ridiculous, as long as you’re being accurate. Do this until you’re crystal-clear about the problem.

Make use of this, and you might find you’re the most resourceful, creative company in your industry.