Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Exercising Creative Solutions

I was getting nowhere.

I am sure you have experienced the feeling of having a piece of work to do and spending hours, getting nowhere.

I was drafting content for a new website. I understood the brief and the feeling required. I understood the subject matter and the objective of this section of the new website.

If it were 20 years ago, the paper bin would have been full of discarded drafts.

This was not even a long piece; 200 words at most and not at all technical.

I usually write in silence however if the task is proving to be a challenge, there is an instrumental music set by Tony O’Connor that I fall back on to release my creative flow.

The set lasts 50 minutes and when it concluded, I was no more advanced than when it started.

I know, I need coffee. Back to back coffees later and I still had nothing worthy of publishing.

Sadly, If I was writing this for myself, I would simply have changed topics and started something new, or even worse, lowered my standards and gone with it anyway.

My task has to be completed today so it was getting to the stages of last resort.

There was a time when “last resort” would have had me reaching for a glass of wine, a whiskey or at one stage, a glass of port but those days are far, far behind me.

Instead, I found myself saying, literally saying out loud, “going for a run will fix it”.

I was somewhat surprised at this solution presenting itself and rejected it on the basis that disappearing for an hour or more was not going to get the content written.

Twenty minutes and no progress later, I changed, stretched, warmed up and started a run.

The path and grass were damp from recent rainfall and while the sun was shining, menacing rain clouds were in the distance. Not to worry, I had work to do.

Relaxing in to an easy pace (in reality I only have one pace) I found myself drafting in my mind the content I was after and doing so clearly, easily and concisely.

It all came together in my mind, fluently and precisely as I wanted it to read and to feel.

I went over it several times to make sure I would remember it when sitting at the keyboard and having satisfied myself I would, I relaxed further in to the run.

I found myself wondering what would have happened if I had an injury and was not able to run today?

I realised the run itself was not the key factor in the solution.

The solution to my dilemma was to change the environment and the energy I was in. It just so happened the run I went for facilitated this.

How many day in day out challenges or problems are out there waiting for a quick, correct and different solution?

I recall many hours spent in meetings discussing issues and as impatience set in, a less than optimal solution being agreed.

I wonder how powerful it would be if team members and leaders were empowered to meet a challenge or find the optimal solution by changing their physical environment. Imagine if meeting in a park or by a river was deemed acceptable? What could happen if 3 team members headed for the gym and had a treadmill or step class instead of clambering around the table with the obligatory whiteboard wall hanging.

Surely this is a far more positive action to unleash some creative thinking and problem solving than the traditional trek to the coffee shop or the bar.
Sadly, it may not be as acceptable.

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