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Relationships and Processes

Collaborative problem solving depends as much on the strength of relationships as it does on the power of the process.Centered problem solvers build their relationships while they challenge their processes.-- doug smith

Possibilities Equals Power

Are you searching for more possibilities? Are you generating more ideas? There could be more possible ways to solve your problem than you will ever think of, so keep thinking, keep exploring. Possibilities equals power.

-- doug smith



Should You Talk About Your Problem?

How often do you share your problems with other people? There was a time in my life when I kept everything to myself, considering it too personal and figuring that no-one had time to help me with my problems. But, you know what? Sometimes we share problems even when we don't share. People can tell. Problems effect performance. Problems effect service, Problems rob us of happiness and sap us of our energy. We need to solve our problems, not hide them.

You might not solve that problem by talking about it, but what if you did?

Centered problem solvers create dialogue. They listen and share in order to reach mutual understanding. The first step to mutual agreement on the solution to a problem is to understand the problem AND each other.

Got a problem? Talk about it.

-- doug smith

Creativity Changes Everything

What is your most powerful tool for change?



How do you break the constraints that stand in your way when you're looking for improvement? Creativity, your power to "bring into existence" (Merriam Webster online) is your own personal engine of growth. Movement in the direction of something new, expansion, birth, novelty, change -- are all variations of your ability to create and are all critical to the optimal state of balance and health.

Got a problem? Use creative thinking to explore possible solutions.

Launching a business? Discover creative ways to reach markets and satisfy customers.

Getting in shape? Keep it interesting and customized to your individual needs creatively. Make it new, make it fresh, make it cool.

Starting a relationship? Crete ways to interest the other person and listen and watch for what is distinctive and creative about the other person. Try new things, go new places, eat new foods, create new connections.

Creativity changes everything.

-- doug smi…

Test Your Assumptions

When was the last time one of your assumptions was wrong?

It's so easy to jump to conclusions. We fill-in-the-blanks so many times in so many ways because it's just part of being human. But, when we assume that things are not going in our favor, when maybe there is no reason to, we do ourselves no service.

This is a picture of a recent training room for one of my workshops. It was day two of the two-day workshop and since the hotel staff had in the past forgotten to unlock the door to my room. I arrived, and sure enough the door was locked. Rather than get upset (something I might have experienced in the past) I calmly contacted the hotel staff and politely, yet assertively, asked to have my door unlocked.

"I can do that, sir," said a polite maintenance gentleman, "but you could also just walk in thru that second, open door..."

"Oh. Gee. Thanks!"

That was just a little embarrassing. Just about fifteen feet from the locked door was an open door. M…

Problem Solving and Success

We don't have to solve every problem to be successful, but it's hard to be successful without solving some problems.

-- Doug Smith


Pick the Right Goal

Sometimes the answer to a problem is that we've picked the right goal. I like to ask myself, "is that goal creative enough to solve the problem?"

-- Doug Smith


An Endless Supply of Solutions

The creative problem solver in you always has more solutions than you need.

-- Doug Smith

Get Creative

Hidden within every problem is a creative solution.

-- Doug Smith

Find Answers That Work and Go!

Did you ever get stuck searching for all of the answers?

It happens to me sometimes. I feel so certain that I've got to come up with every best possible answer that the best answer hides behind a wall of searching.

Yes, we do need lots of answers. Yes, the first answer (or third) is seldom the best.

But we also reach a point of diminishing returns. We also reach a time when it's time to do something.

Are you there on your biggest problem?

Creative problem solvers realize that even the best answer will likely evolve during the solution. Our plans change, our situation complicates, and other people get involved. That's OK. That's no reason to freeze

Creative problem solvers don't need all the answers -- just the ones that work.

Have you found an answer that works today?

-- Doug Smith


Collaborate Rather Than Dictate

Do you ever find it easy to identify the solution to someone else's problem?

Without the headaches and heartburn of the problem sitting in your own life, it can seem far more simple and easy to solve.

Seem. That does not mean that it is. And when we take on the problems of another without asking them what they've already done or plan to do, any solution that we do develop is likely to fall short. Ownership of the solution is just as important as creativity.

Sometimes solving someone else's problem for them is a big mistake.

Collaborate rather than dictate. Share ideas. Work together. Understand the problem at it's heart and center and not just on the surface. That takes time. That takes patience. And that takes collaboration.

Centered problem solvers collaborate with creativity, courage, clarity, and compassion. Leave any of that out, and the solution may be incomplete and ineffective.

We've all tried that already, haven't we? Why not start to get it right?



-- D…

Dig Deeper

If that problem has been around awhile, if that problem is cagey to the point of making you scratch your head, you might need many solutions. Many ideas.

Creative, centered problem solvers stay with the process long enough to develop more solutions that any one problem needs.

The gold is deep. Keep digging.

-- Doug Smith


Ask The Tough Questions

Problems resist easy answers. That's why we need to ask the tough questions.

Why are things the way they are? What is the deeper cause? On the surface, we may think we understand a problem. Digging deeper, asking probing and open ended questions, we can get at the heart of what is really going on.

Are people being rewarded for incorrect behavior? Is someone benefitting from the problem situation? If so, who? Is it too easy to ignore the problem? Is the source of the problem aware that there is even a problem?

For example, those who most resist a fair distribution of work are those who may not be working too hard. Why change?  Executives making juicy bonuses may not even be aware of how hard it is to live paycheck to paycheck.

Creative problem solvers ask the tough questions with curiosity.

Not to judge. Not to punish. But to know. What's really going on?

Centered problem solvers use their creativity to separate people from the problem. They use their compassion to feel the disc…

Stay Creative

Do you think about creativity everyday?

When we think about creativity everyday it spurs us into action, it develops a sense of wonder, it prods us into moving out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.

We can even reach a state that is so creative we forget that we're thinking about being creative, we simply create. New things, better things, wonderful things.

Better leadership, better communication, better problem solving. Better living.

Stay creative and you won't ever regret it.

It makes us brighter, makes us smarter, makes us more alive.

What are you doing to develop your creativity today?

-- Doug Smith


Solve Problems Creatively by Practicing Creativity

Do you want to bring more creativity to your problem solving?

I would guess that the answer is "of course!" More creativity leads to better solutions. Oh, yes and it's more fun. Can problem solving be fun? Absolutely, but only if you bring enough creativity into the process to get past the aggravation and move forward to the fun.

Creative problem solving requires creative practice. Find ways to sharpen your creativity.

Find ways off line. Go for a walk. Visit a museum. Draw a picture. Make up a joke (that's harder than it might seem). Create!

This is your coaches prodding, working on you in this moment: go create something!

Practice your creativity the way a great pianist practices their art and craft of playing the piano. You've got you keep your fingers on the keys. Go!

-- Doug Smith

Garden or Laboratory?

Where do you test your best creative ideas?

Not all creative ideas are the same. Some require a sort of close inspection with careful boundaries and controlled conditions, otherwise they will become impossible to work with or change into something we hadn't counted on.

But not all creative ideas are like that.

Some creative ideas benefit from a quick planting and careful observance to see how they're doing but are left to grow on their own. We tend to them, we remove obstacles and aberrations, but we let them grow naturally.

Some creative ideas need a garden and some need a laboratory.

If no one can get hurt, if you you've got lots of time, and if you want the unexpected to be welcome, plant your creative ideas in a garden like atmosphere of freedom and spontaneity.

If the risks are high, the conditions are dangerous, and the talent is exposed to sudden change keep a laboratory-like grip on your creative conditions. Focus your attention on them but don't let them explod…

Solve The Problems We Can Solve

Do all the problems of the world sometimes seem overwhelming? What on earth can we do?

What we can't do as individuals is solve them all. It's too much. I get tired just thinking about it. But, there is still much that we can do. There are problems that we can help solve. We can work together and focus on what matters most to us and set noble goals. Then, centered and creative we can achieve those goals.

Once we realize it's not our job to solve every problem it becomes easier to solve the problems we are ready to solve.

What problem are you ready to solve?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: Training Supervisors for Success

What have you learned today?

Get Lots of Ideas

Where do your best project ideas come from?

When we're creating something new we need lots of new ideas. The ones we bring with us are great, but we might need more. We probably need more. We certainly need more.

As the project manager, part of your job is to find the best sources of new ideas. To spark some inspiration, think about where great ideas come from. They don't even have to be related to your project because great ideas from unrelated areas might just get your team going in a spectacularly new and creative direction.

Sometimes several unrelated ideas can produce the best solution to your project problem.

Get lots of ideas!

Why not invite some new ideas into your next project meeting?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your project goals


Is Your Biggest Problem Growing?

What keeps us from solving our biggest problems?

Our biggest problems are big for a reason. They include baggage, challenges, surprises, resistance, and blocks that feel stronger than we are. Our biggest problems can seem tough and even insurmountable. We work our way around them as long as we can because bumping into them causes us so much discomfort.

The problem with big problems is that they don't go away on their own, they get bigger.

A problem ignored tends to grow increasingly faster. 

Not only is that big problem getting bigger, but it's getting bigger at a faster rate and with more deeply rooted tentacles that create additional problems.

We owe it to ourselves to tackle those big problems now. Roll up our sleeves, check our egos at the door, do whatever it takes but work on them now.

Because if you don't like that problem now, how much will you like it when it's at least twice as big?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: Training Supervisors for Success

doug s…

Is The Answer A Combination?

Wouldn't it be great if there were one absolute answer to every problem? What if there were one universal tool that would always serve us, one magnificent process to problem solving forever and for always?

There are many great problem solving processes. There are many great approaches to leadership. Styles change, tools grow, people evolve. One single answer seldom does the trick.

That unsolved problem just might need a combination of solutions.

Dig them up. Look them over. Try them again. Put them together like the pieces of an elaborate puzzle or the moves in an intricate game. There is an answer there. You just might have to fuse a few together.

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: Training Supervisors for Success 

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals