Planning a Problem Solution
In the event that you have a group that's getting together to solve a problem, um, what should you do? How should you do that? Um, I recommend if you're going to get a group together to solve a problem that you give yourself actually a couple of days to do it, nobody solves really hard problems in twenty minutes just wishing I wish they did, they don't. So if you're going to get a group together, you've got to get your group together for at least two days. You want to get those people off site. We talked yesterday about the value of bringing people off site the main reason for getting people off site it's, partly so that the environment doesn't promote the same old solutions, but more important, it's to keep everybody engaged. If if if we were on site somewhere, everyone would have a meeting to go to a ts some point during the day, and that would really disrupt the flow of the group, so you get people off site so that nobody can leave, preferably you get people off site in a place wher...
e they don't even have cell phone access anymore or even wifi, okay, keep people in the room focused on things you want to make sure that the group that you work with its solving a problem has all of the people who are empowered to actually make sure that that that a project moves forward after you generate an idea one of the things that amazes me about lots of groups this is true for for businesses but it's also true of non profits that I've seen they come up with these great ideas but no one is actually empowered to push it forward and so groups so ideas die because once the leadership here's the idea they think you know what we're we're we're just not going there so you need to make sure that there are people who have authority to push a project forward who will approve of what's going on while it's happening so that you don't spend you don't waste a lot of time you want to make sure you have people who actually know a lot about the domain in which the problem is being solved so that you actually have the expertise in the room you need. You'd like to make sure that you have representatives who understand the user experience with customer experience because there are times that people create fascinating technical solutions to problems and they create lousy user experiences because nobody ever asks the question should this problem actually be solved? Will anybody use this? My favorite example of this the segway anybody here own a segway? I thought not segways a fascinating device it's actually a technological marvel and if you very of anybody ever been on a segway okay, I've been on a segway once. It's. Incredible. You feel like you're gonna fall over, but you don't. The thing just moves. It responds to the way it's great it's. Brilliant it's. Useless. Okay, because the problem is, and when they when they actually, when the segway first came out there were there were these. They were the they had great hype. They were they were all over the news. Basically talking about how sooner or later everyone was gonna have one. And when I saw it, I thought to myself, this is a four thousand dollars solution to the problem of walking. Nobody needs one of these. And sure enough, nobody needs one of these, right? The on ly to places they exist now are in tour companies for cities and mall cops. That's it those are the only people who have them okay and it's because no one who would be thinking about the customer experience was it all involved in this process. Otherwise somebody would have said, no one is ever going to buy this thing. Um, there's another give you one more example of this role of the customer experience in this there is a there is another product that was that was introduced by procter and gamble. Which is a company I've done a lot of work for. It was introduced several years ago, and it's called sent stories. I don't know if anybody knows cent story since story is actually a brilliant product that nobody owns, and I don't know if it exists anymore since stories took advantage of an interesting aspect of our sensory system. So when you smell something you on ly notice that smell for a short period of time because basically your brain makes the decision. Does this scent tell me something I need to know and a lot of the sense that air out there, particularly ones that are in the modern environment, actually don't provide us with much information? And so we noticed them briefly and then and then we habituate to them, which means we don't notice them anymore. So what sent stories did was it created? They have these little discs and they would play thirty minutes of scent. Okay, so they would play six cents every five one every five minutes. That would tell a little story like walking through the forest. And so every few minutes the scent would change. And what was brilliant about this was just about the time that you would habituate toe one cent, you'd get a fresh one, right it's a great idea. I mean for people who like to have sent in their home if you don't like sent your home it doesn't it doesn't help so much but there's a really great idea so they needed the problems they didn't really have the kind of user experience people involved in this so so they had this disc is great and then they designed ah disc player and they made this disc player look kind of like a hi tech cd player we had this it was white and blue translucent plastic with buttons all over it and it really it looked like a cd player. Now let me ask you where do you keep your cd player living room just out like on the living room you know, table living room I mean, how many people he's just he's just he's your story like front and center it's like that's the thing you look at or it's in the corner or in a cabinet right it's away stereo equipment isn't really made to be like the main focus of attention in the room. Okay, so if I build a device that looks like a piece of stereo equipment, I'm going what I'm doing is saying to you shove this in the corner as far out of sight is possible but what we talked about habits right that the idea behind habits is if I want people to use something if I wanted to be part of their daily routine it needs to be part of their environment not shoved in a corner somewhere so the fundamental and so and so basically is the recent stories tanked and it tanked because the box looks like a city so those people who did buy it shoved it in the corner and never bought the disks again and most people looked at it and I don't even know what to do with this does it play music? I don't get it okay, so the user experience wasn't present in fact the only people I know you actually have us who have sent stories our procter gamble employees who've got one in there christmas basket that year because that was their way of dumping excess inventory and even they have it in a corner somewhere, right? Even those people who were loyal enough to actually you know keep it out have it shoved in a corner what does this mean? It means if you were going to try and solve a really interesting problem like that if you had the user experience people involved they would have said you know what makes this thing look like a planter make it look like something where people would put it right out in the middle of the table in their environment where they would see it on a daily basis where they could create habits to use it all right? So get thes people involved now once you get that group involved, you have your two day session, actually spend the bulk of the first day on defining the problem. Nobody wants to do that. Everybody wants to get on with it, right? Everybody wants to move on to let's solve the problem, but actually, the solution to the problem you create is only good as good as the problem definition itself, so you actually have to spend a lot of time to finding the problem. So if you have two days, one day, one full day should be spent on defining the problem, then take day to spend a little bit of time on developing solutions. You could do that in about two thirds of the day, and then you want to leave an hour, two at the end to forman implementation intention, I promise you all this stuff it's together. So this idea of having a plan this isn't on ly good for setting an agenda for helping you to create your habits. It's also great for businesses to help them make sure that ideas don't die, because if you don't create a plan where you give specific people specific deadlines for doing things, that nobody does anything, and six months later and when he looks back and says, then we have a good time generating those ideas, yeah, whatever happened to those ideas? I don't know nobody had responsibility for it so you have to end the problem solving process with a specific plan of how you're going to move forward and this is actually something that you need to make a part of almost everything you do whenever you make a commitment to do something you want that commitment to reflect a plan about how this is going to get done so if you want to implement a new habit in your life, you need to have an agenda uh when I meet with my graduate students and we're working on a project, we finish the meeting with a plan that makes clear who has what responsibilities between now and the next time that we mean write these kinds of implementation intentions are critical because unless you begin to specify exactly when you're going to get something done, it turns out that much less gets done so there's really value in attaching the task that you have in your life to particular times uh, of your day in your week and if you begin to put all this stuff together then you make yourself more effective more productive across all of the different aspects of your life and smarter, right? I mean, who wouldn't like that now that's about the end of the of the big content here here's what I'm going to do? I just want to kind of review where we went today and then we can take some general questions and I have some more general points. Okay? So just to make sure we're clear where we went today, we talked that we started the day with feelings and emotions, right? How is it that the affect that we have the positive and negative feelings that either stronger week how does affect us? How do we how do we turn those into interpret those and turn them into emotions? And how does all of that influence the way that we think the way that we solve problems, the way that we created maintain habits and how do we make decisions on the basis of those feelings? And then we turned our attention to thinking about, uh, getting smarter causal knowledge, the answer to the question, why the danger with our causal knowledge that there is the illusion of explanatory depth that we know less about the way the world works than we think we do, that we need to use our knowledge it's sometimes in problem solving situations, particularly when we get stuck that we want to seek analogies, drawing knowledge from one area of our expertise to another, okay? And then at the very end of the day, we talked about defining problems tools that we can use to make sure that were as clear is possible about exactly what problem we're trying to solve, that we think about where that problem fits into the overall ecosystem that we understand the nature of that problem so that we can draw the right kind of knowledge into our problem solving process and solve that problem or effectively so that's where we went today and before I say any more let's see what? What kind of questions have come in and of course we'll take questions from the grocer now we've had a lot of questions coming in about some of the content we touched on earlier so this first one comes from tantrum and they say this is relating back to some of the stuff we talked about with personalities they say if two people perhaps two people in a relationship we're to score themselves on the personality dimensions that we did earlier should they be concerned if they find themselves to different or too alike I have this friend and uh you know it's it's interesting they of course they say opposites attract actually we tend to we tend tio mate assorted of lee which means we tend to actually end up with people who are relatively similar to us. It is it is very it is actually difficulty for people tto have relationships very close relationships with people who are exceedingly different from us on a lot of the core personality characteristics because they tend to be when we're very, very different we often get pulled way out of our comfort zone so if you have somebody who's really open to experience who's in a relationship with somebody who's really closed to experience that's a very frustrating situation because the open to experience person wants to try new restaurants and try new movies and trying to shows and whatever and the clothes to experience person is like now let's do what we did last time right? And that could be that could be a source of tension if you have you know now some of the dimensions may matter a little bit less if you have somebody who's very um mohr on the on the emotionally unstable in and then somebody else who's a little bit less uh, emotionally stable you know, if you have people people in both ends of those that dimension that can actually be okay because you can actually have one person helped anchor the other having two people who are very emotionally stable um could be a little tough I was your day fine you're you know we're two people who are emotionally unstable can be you know, all over the place so actually a little bit of distance on that one can be better, right? So you really have to think I think not so much about is is it better to be similar or different but what is the dynamic that develops when you have similarities and differences? Okay um agreeableness is is, um you know, the one of the problems with having people who are very different on agreeableness is that if you have one person is very agreeable and one is very disagreeable, you have one person is constantly chasing the other saying okay, okay, yeah, I'll go along with that, okay? And the other one who sort of taking advantage of that right, um you know, conscientiousness it sort of depends right on on on the gun agreeableness, right? So so if you have one person is very conscientious and one who's not you know, the question is, is the person and how how is the person is very conscientious going to react with lack of conscientiousness in the other, so it sort of depends right? It will be his one person is going to find themselves always either doing or nagging and so and so that's that's where you know that you have to think about where that's where that dynamic is going is going to end up. So so really, I think the big picture and then of course extra version introversion you know that's an interesting one actually being def dissimilar or similar on that one I think has a little bit less to do with the relationship except if the extroverted wants to drag the introvert into situations of being in the public eye right or being in the center of attention right? But if they're if they're not really trying to drag each other into that then that can actually be okay now I know something that we touched on earlier was kind of knowing what you don't know accepting that and getting to the bottom of it but this is an interesting question from shrew me they say how do you deal with people who act as though they know everything even though they clearly don't yes, those were some of our least favorite people aren't they? How do you deal with the people who believe that they know everything and then they actually don't um you know, it depends on how much you have to deal with them I guess and what position that they hold relative to you but you know, I'm a big believer in in finding ways of introducing, um the topics that that that might enlighten other people around us without necessarily being in your face about it right? So I don't generally speaking think it's helpful to say to somebody look, you idiot, um this is the way the world works, right? I think it's it's much more effective to try to engage in conversation in part because actually most people aren't idiots and which is I mean and I mean it's it's actually hard to wrap your head around this because you know when people really fundamentally disagree with you and when they say things that you think that you find objectionable your first tendency is to think this person is an idiot this person is is just there a jerk they don't date their mean they're you know, there's something wrong with them that they don't see the world the way that I do and one of the things that I think is kind of important to do it is to start most of your interactions with the belief that actually most of the people that you interact with aren't idiots that actually they are reasonably bright reasonably well thinking well meaning people who may not know something that you know or may have a different belief than you have because if you start with that premise that that that they are actually generally speaking good people who have it not to know something then you can engage in conversation engage in a relationship and overtime bring into the conversation elements that might go beyond what it is that that person seems to know about in ways that that might help you teo to change someone's mind about things or changed their state of knowledge but if you can't if you feel like you can't do that right if you're interacting with somebody you feel you can't even talk to you got to ask yourself how can I just get out of having to interact with this person right? I mean, not everyone in the world needs to be corrected, you know, this is like, this is like the first lesson of facebook is is not everything needs to be corrected. Um and so and so, one of the questions you have to ask yourself is, um, you know, is this something I really feel like investing energy and t make this this person, this situation a better one? Great. Now, I think we have time for one more general question came in, and this comes from lala, and earlier you were talking a little bit about having your priorities and feeling the timing for certain problems. Lala wants to know, what can you do when you are feeling rushed that maybe you're behind career rot? Career wise? How do you focus on moving ahead without feeling rushed or overwhelmed? We've been getting a lot of questions about this overwhelming feeling, yeah, feeling russian, so feeling rushed, feeling overwhelmed, you know what I mean? That is a constant state of affairs in the modern world. So how do you how do you avoid feeling rushed? I mean, I think one of the ways that you avoid feeling rushed is to recognize that there actually isn't a script, right, it's, you know, in fact, um you know it's it's interesting, right? I mean there's there's ways of getting deeply philosophical about this right? You can take it step way back and remember that at some point we're all going to die and and I and I don't mean that in kind of some kind of fatalistic sense but the point is right all we have in our lives and I think this is important when you think about habits in life, you know, in this life path all we have is the time between now and when we die right and in that time period there isn't really a script because at the finish line we all end up in the same place, right? So the real question is, you know, what are we going to do with today? You know, what are we so there is no and I guess my point is that that what that means ultimately is there is no ahead or behind, you know, you are where you are at this moment, okay? And the question is where what would you like to do? What would you like? What would you like to accomplish? And then what is the path to get you there, right? And a lot of what we've talked about in terms of setting these big picture goals, these contributions and then finding specific actions is never to say it has to be done on this particular time schedule I have to have this thing completed by wednesday you know, business is may tell you that and you're going to feel rushed by your boss sometimes, but in terms of the big life goals, the big contributions you know when you get to that point what you've got is this is a contribution I'd like to make in my life these were the actions that I could take to get me there here's the timeframe I'm going to do this on, I'm going to work I'm gonna, you know, hear the things I'm going to do one day at a time and just do those things and if you've got the right plan, if you actually have a plan that will get you to make those contributions, you will make progress on them because here's, the other thing to remember it's, not about the outcome and this is something we talked about a little bit earlier, right there is this tendency to focus on outcomes I'm behind in my career. What does that mean? It means I haven't I haven't reached this particular goal or that particular goal or that particular goal as if any of those goals is the one that's going to make your life better if you don't enjoy what you're doing today, what makes you think you're going to enjoy it next week or the week after that if you continue doing the same thing, it doesn't you know most jobs don't get different sometimes they do if you're a student right now and you're doing it with the gold towards having a particular job, that isn't really academically uh focused after you get out okay, I can understand saying I don't love school, but I'm going to love what I'm gonna be able to do with my schooling but after you get beyond that, most jobs don't change their character one hundred eighty degrees once you hit a certain level usually it's just more of the same and with more stuff added, you know, it's usually what happens with jobs over the course your courage, you're still doing that thing, but they throw more balls at you, so now you're juggling seven things and now you're juggling nine and now you're juggling fifteen and if you're really skilled, you still manage to keep all of those in the air, so you know, so so so really the reason I'm saying this is because if it doesn't get different, it means that I shouldn't necessarily be worried about where I am in this road I should be asking myself the question did I have some fun today? Did I did I did I accomplish something that was fulfilling dough? I feel some joy and what I did in my life and and the answer to that question more often than not had better be yes and if the answer to that question is is no ask yourself why is that question? No is the answer to that question? No, because I'm worried about not getting to some place in the future or is the answer to that question? No, because I had a lousy day today that is I didn't enjoy the things I'm doing now if the answer to the question of did I if that I have some joy and some fulfillment today is no because I'm worried about achieving some point in the future bear in mind that if you are worried about what's gonna happen, the future today you're always going to be worried about what's gonna have to happen in the future and have I gotten to the place I want to be? And when you reached the place you think you want to be at when you get there, you're going to be worried about something a year off down the line you're gonna be chasing that carrot like the like, you know you got that guy sitting on the horse, you know that you're always gonna be chasing that carrot, you don't want to be chasing that carry your whole life, so if you're unhappy about where you are in your life because you haven't achieved a particular goal you have to reframe the way think about your life instead what you need to do is to say did I have a good day today and I would like for example, I had a good day today I did I mean we're we're getting towards the end of three days I actually had a good three days did this help me accomplish some life goal? I don't know I'll figure that out later, right? But I had a good three days I enjoyed this three days I had fulfillment in these three days that's pretty awesome you know tomorrow will be so great he's getting on a plane all day but but I'm going to deal with today, you know? And and so I think if you have if you take joy in those moments and you re on dh you've planned well so that you know that the actions you're taking really are on a road towards the contribution you want to make, then you get to do both you get the best of both worlds, you get to enjoy the things you did each day secure in the knowledge that they are adding up to something bigger than what you've then then what you've tried to a kind that then what you've been able to accomplish so far so you are on the road to making that a competent to making that contribution but you're not you're not sacrificing the fulfillment today because you haven't reached that point yet and to me, I think that's that's fundamentally the big thing love the things that you're doing each day organize them so that they bring you towards that big picture contribution you want to make, but don't stress over whether you've made that contribution or not, in part because it gets back to something I said earlier. You know, one of the things that happens is a lot of us read biographies of really interesting people who've achieved a lot in their lives, and very few of those people actually point out how clueless they are they were about how their life was going to go all the way along until they look back and realize some interesting stuff happened, right? You know, along the way you're just doing this stuff you do there's nobody who's thinking, yup, I'm nailing this, I'm now in this and next week I'm going to nail it again in the week after I'm going to tell it again, I am going to be great, you know, people say that or just hopeful, I'm going to be great, um so so I think I think what you really need to do is just is just to go through these things plan well, and and then hopefully you look back someday and think, you know what that went all right. And even if it didn't go all right, even if you don't end up exactly in the place you wanted to be if you enjoyed each day and you got some fulfillment out of each day who's to say that was a failure, I don't know it strikes me as being a pretty good way to go. All right, so, uh, here's the deal? Um, I will not be a happy camper if each of you spent three days with me and don't change anything after that. Okay, I really I want you to use this, uh, in your lives. I want you to change your lives as a result of doing this. My life has been changed by learning about psychology, right? You know, I played the saxophone for you today. I I can play the saxophone right? Because I'm a psychologist, right? Because I actually looked backto look forward because I projected myself at some point deep into my life and said, what will I regret not having done and took up the sacks and then added it into my life? You know, made made small changes in my life in order to integrate the saxophone into it so that over a ten year period I would go from not being able to play to be able to play so that thirteen and years and change after doing that, I could come to creative live and unbeknownst to what I was going to be doing, play the saxophone, right? I mean that's that's you know, you got him, you got it use this knowledge about about psychology to begin to change what you do about things. And if this is your first foray into thinking about psychology, don't make it the last one you know, you we've we've given you a basis to start with, right? You've now learned some new things, but hopefully you've also begun to discover some things that you now know you don't know, and so these airs now things that you can begin to work on, right? So learn more about the way that you think about your motivation about the way that you feel about the way that you make decisions and remember the duality that we've talked about for these three days that the more I learned about myself, the more I've also learned about everybody else that if I understand my own personality, then I also understand how other people are going to differ from me if I understand how to change my own behavior. I've learned how to influence other people's behavior that if I learned if I've learned how to make myself smarter, I've learned how to make everybody else around me smarter too, and so do these things right, use the worksheets is templates. Tto learn things to organize presentations that you give, ask the people around you, why questions maximize the quality of your knowledge, be willing to change your behavior, be willing to fail, and then tow, learn from failure rather than being demoralized by failure. If you do these things, then then you change your life right in really interesting ways and form these implementation intentions, right, really decide. When am I going to do these things? When am I going to put some of these new events into my life? When am I going to do this right each day? You could do things that make your life better and different, and so if you do even a little bit of that, then I'll still be smiling in there. You're somehow I'll just don't that I'll know, right. It'll be great.