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Sep 30

Changing the Logic: how?

It can be easy to do things the same way as yesterday. With so much on our plate, so many different things we are responsible for, make choices about and try to remember, autopilot can be a lifesaver. And sometimes a lifewaster too.

As the familiar prayer tells us, we need the wisdom to know the difference.

Years ago my good friend Dee sat me on a stool in her kitchen and asked me to imagine my life in a year’s time. She asked me to describe it. She asked a couple of questions. Then she pointed out to me the things I hadn’t mentioned. The parts of my life that didn’t feature. I hadn’t left them out intentionally. But it was clear that they were either unimportant (so why waste time on them?) or unwelcome. Thanks to Dee, I then knew what I had to sort out.

That approach might work for you or you might already have a clear sense of which are the things you do – at work or in other areas of your life – that need a rethink. So how?

Here are 3 of my top tips for Changing the Logic. Things that have worked for me that you might want to try. And if you have one that you are happy to share please add a comment at the end of this blog.

1. Ask an Embarrassing Question

Go on, nobody’s listening. It’s just you and you. And we all know what is the most inconvenient question we could be asked.  You get that squirmy feeling, like you were ten years old again and you’d forgotten to do your homework. That moment of anxious hesitation while you start coming up with the excuses.  Yes, but the market has not had the growth we expected when we wrote that proposal. Yes, but who could have predicted what our competitors were planning? Yes, but I’ve just been too busy to go to the gym three times a week / stop smoking / fix the cupboard door / visit my elderly aunt / whatever.

So play devil’s advocate on yourself. If you were the investigative journalist what would you ask yourself about? And if you didn’t have a good answer what would you ask next?

2. Throw a spanner in the works

I don’t know if it’s true, but when I left university and went to work for a large oil company I was told their recruitment policy was 90% people to fall in and do the work and 10% disrupters. Over 15 years I variously heard this group described as grit in the oyster, change agents, disrupters and of course, a bloody nuisance! All true.

You might not have those people around your board table but they still exist and might be delighted to be asked in on a disrupter ticket. Their aim is not to find problems but to identify potential solutions. It could be someone from a very different industry or school of thought. Maybe “the enemy”, maybe an artist or musician, maybe children or pensioners or complete outsiders. Their value is their point of view. Their way of seeing the world. And it is going to take courage on your part to listen to them with an open mind, to avoid justifying and defending everything you do. Remember it is not about running the business. It’s about changing the logic. And even if you see a way to do that, nobody’s saying you’ve got to see it through. So give it a whirl, see what happens.

3. 1 plus 1 makes elbows

Any point on a map has a grid reference. It is a unique place that marks the intersection of two lines, one horizontal and one vertical. At least in regular mathematics in two dimensions; let’s overlook the quantum and complex considerations for the moment. So bringing together any two things (people, ideas, products, adverts) and seeing how they would combine will give you a unique point on the possibilities map. Somebody had to think of the idea of putting a blender in a plug hole to dispose of kitchen waste. Or wheels on a suitcase. Or a music system in a phone.

It can even be fun. You remember those children’s books where you can make hilarious creatures by combining the head of chicken with the body of a giraffe and the legs of a bus driver? Play with it. Enjoy it. Laugh at it. Some of the outcomes will be absurd. Some may seem impossible. And you never know, one or two might just be gems.

Well it’s a start

You might try these and still feel you didn’t come up with any useful insights. That’s allowed. Some days you might, some days you might not. Worst case is you’ve got some things you know didn’t work for you which might help you find one that does.  Like Edison saying “today we found another way NOT to make a light bulb”. It doesn’t make it a waste of time and while you are waiting for the brilliant insight to arrive, at least you can have more stimulating lunch breaks. I’d love to hear about them…

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