jerryking + problem_definition   12

To Be a Better Leader, Ask Better Questions
May 9, 2019 | WSJ | By Hal Gregersen. Dr. Gregersen is executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and author of “Questions Are the Answer.”

1. Understand what kinds of questions spark creative thinking. The best questions really knock down barriers to creative thinking and channel energy down new, more productive pathways. A question that does has five traits. It reframes the problem. It intrigues the imagination. It invites others’ thinking. It opens up space for different answers. And it’s nonaggressive—not posed to embarrass, humiliate or assert power over the other party. Ask employees: “What are you wrestling with and how can I help?” Ask customers and supply-chain partners: “If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing differently than what you see us doing today?”
2. Create the habit of asking questions. in the early stages of building your questioning capacity, it’s helpful to start by copying other people’s questions. It’s the equivalent of practicing your scales. Once you’ve got the scales down, you can start to improvise..... management thinker Peter Drucker, liked to jump-start strategic thinking by asking: “What changes have recently happened that don’t fit ‘what everyone knows’ ”?

Another example: A leader in a consumer packaged-goods company constantly asks: “What more can we do to delight the customer at the point of purchase? And what more to delight them at the point of consumption?”......builds the habit of thinking in questions, which, in turn, leads to daily inquiry about matters large and small, and an organization that keeps pushing its competitive advantages forward.
3. Fuel that habit by making yourself generate new questions...... generate new and better questions, not to cap your questioning career at the level of playing flawless scales.
4. Respond with the power of the pause. When someone comes to you with a problem, don’t immediately respond with an answer. ........Instead, make it your habit to respond with a question—ideally one that reframes the problem, but at least one that draws out more of your colleague’s thoughts on the matter. ....not talking about the cop-out rejoinder of, “Well, what do YOU think we should do?” Help the person think through how the decision should be made, with questions like: “What are we optimizing for?” “What’s the most important thing we have to achieve with whatever direction we take?” Or: “What makes this decision so hard? What problem felt like this in the past?” You'll be teaching your colleagues the value of pausing to get the question right before rushing to the answer. And nine times out of 10, you’re going to wind up with a better answer than the one you would have blurted out with less deliberation.
5. Brainstorm for questions. Whenever you/ your team finds itself at an impasse, or there is a sense that some insight is eluding you regarding a problem or opportunity, just stop and spend four minutes generating nothing but questions about it--question bursts. Don’t spend a second answering the questions, or explaining why you posed a certain one. As in brainstorming, go for high volume and do no editing in progress. See if you can generate at least 15-20.
6. Reward your questioners. Bosses should reconceive what their primary job is. They aren’t there to come up with today’s best answers, or even just to get their teams to come up with them. Their job is to build their organization’s capacity for constant innovation.
Their enterprise’s future—and their own career trajectory—depends on their resolve to ask better questions.
books  brainstorming  creativity  creative_thinking  follow-up_questions  habits  imagination  innovation  leaders  nonaggressive  organizational_capacity  Peter_Drucker  Philip_Mudd  power_of_the_pause  problem_definition  problem_framing  questions  strategic_thinking 
may 2019 by jerryking
Using Digital Tools to Move a Candy Company Into the Future - The New York Times
As told to Patricia R. Olsen
Sept. 21, 2018

explore the ways in which we can take advantage of new technologies and tools, such as artificial intelligence; how we should experiment; and whether we are even looking at the right problems. Mars is based in McLean, Va.,...... Part of my work involves prototyping, such as growing peanut plants in a fish tank using digital automation — without human intervention. To do this, I worked with a few colleagues in Mount Olive, N.J., a unit that I’m part of, though I don’t work there all the time. We implemented an automated watering and fertilizing schedule to see how the plants would grow.

We don’t only produce candy. We also offer pet care expertise and produce pet food and human food, like Uncle Ben’s Rice. With the peanut plants, we wanted to see if we could learn anything for partnering with our farmers, everything from how we might use technology to how a team comes together and tries different ideas.
career_paths  digital_strategies  Mars  women  CPG  confectionery_industry  artificial_intelligence  experimentation  howto  pets  problem_framing  problem_definition  prototyping  future  automation  human_intervention  worthwhile_problems 
september 2018 by jerryking
A Former CIA Executive’s Advice On How To Make Hard Decisions | The future of business
05.28.15 | Fast Company | BY STEPHANIE VOZZA.
A Former CIA Executive’s Advice On How To Make Hard Decisions
A five-step decision-making process from a man who spent 25 years making life-and-death decisions.
(1) Question
(2) Drivers
(3) Metrics
(4) Data
(5) What's Missing/Blind Spots

1. FIND THE REAL QUESTION
Questions are NOT self-evident, says Mudd. Focusing on better questions up front yields better answers later.
“Good questions are hard to come up with,” he says. Delay data gathering and the conclusions.... think about exactly what it is we want to know..... Start with what you’re trying to accomplish and work your way back, instead of moving forward and making conclusions. The right question provides a decision advantage to the person at the head of the table.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR “DRIVERS”
Break down complex questions into characteristics or “drivers.” This approach gives you a way to manage data.
For example, sort data on Al Qaeda into information baskets that included money, recruits, leadership, communications, training, and access to weapons. When information flows in, rather than adding it to one unmanageable pile, sorting through it periodically, and offering a recitation of what appears to be relevant from the most recent stuff you’ve seen, file each bit into one of your baskets. Limit your drivers to 10.

3. DECIDE ON YOUR METRICS
Identify the metrics you’ll use to measure how the problem and solution are evolving over time.
What are the right metrics?
What are the new information sources and metrics?
Compare your thought process to the training process of an Olympic sprinter who measures success in hundredths of a second. “If we don’t, the analysis we provide will suffer the same fate as a sprinter who thinks he’s great but has never owned a stopwatch: he enters an elite competition, and reality intervenes,” Metrics provide a “mind mirror”–a system for judging your decisions. It provides a foundation for coming back to the table and assessing the process for success.

4. COLLECT THE DATA
Once you’ve built the framework that will help you make the hard decision, it’s time to gather the data. Overcome data overload by plugging data into their driver categories and excising anything that doesn’t fit. “Too much data might provide a false sense of security, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to clearer analytic decision making,”

Avoud intuition. It’s dangerous. Aggressively question the validity of your data. Once you have your data sorted, give yourself a grade that represents your confidence in assessing your question.

5. LOOK FOR WHAT’S MISSING
Complex analysis isn’t easy. Assume that the process is flawed and check for gaps and errors. Three common stumbling blocks are:

Availability bias: The instinct to rely on what you know or what has been most recently in the news.
Halo effect: When you write off the negative characteristics because you’re mesmerized by the positive attributes.
Intuitive versus analytic methodologies: when you go with your gut. Relying on intuition is dangerous.

Mudd says making complex decisions is hard work. “It’s a lot of fun to be an expert who bases their ideas on history and not a lot of fun to be an analyst who must always be assessing potential scenarios,” he says. “Every time you go into a problem, and before you rip into data, ask yourself, ‘Am I sure where I’m heading?’”
asking_the_right_questions  availability_bias  biases  decision_making  false_sense_of_security  gut_feelings  halo_effects  hard_choices  intuition  intelligence_analysts  life-and-death  metrics  Philip_Mudd  problem_definition  organizing_data  problem_framing  sorting  thinking_backwards 
october 2017 by jerryking
Pam Edstrom Burnished the Image of Bill Gates and Microsoft - WSJ
“What business problem are we trying to solve?” she often asked. She also preached brevity. “Be brief, be bright and be done,” she sometimes advised colleagues before meeting with clients.
problem_definition  problem_framing  problem_solving  public_relations  brevity  obituaries  women  Microsoft  billgates  Silicon_Valley 
april 2017 by jerryking
Mastering the Art of Problem Solving
When President Bill Clinton chose to intervene in the Somali civil war in 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu resulted in thousands of Somali citizens killed, two American Black Hawk helicopters shot down,…

WHAT ABOUT THE DATA?
Increasing amounts of data can be unmanageable, and the problem of sorting through data overloads may only worsen in this digital era. Rather than looking at each bit of information as a discrete data point, we want to look at our drivers and sort the data according to which driver it supports--on other words, sort the data into each of the half-dozen or so driver categories, so analysts have few piles to deal with rather than a thousand discrete data points.
decision_making  howto  problem_solving  problem_framing  security_&_intelligence  CIA  books  information_overload  analysis  interviews  critical_thinking  book_reviews  Philip_Mudd  frameworks  insights  sorting  analysts  thinking_backwards  problem_definition  intelligence_analysts 
may 2015 by jerryking
Larry Fink: “We need confidence back”
Jan. 24 2013 | The Globe and Mail |

BlackRock is huge. Are you getting opportunities that individual investors are not?

That's such an open-ended question that it's kind of meaningless. Is the sky blue? I have offices worldwide. I talk to clients worldwide. That's information, but it's not inside information. It's knowledge from being an active participant. We are serving our clients better by doing that. Do I have a better understanding of what's going on in the markets than an individual? I would hope so.

What were the biggest lessons investors should have learned from the financial crisis?

There were many of them. There was way too much leverage in the system, and this is one reason that economies still are not fully out of their doldrums. Institutions really didn't have a good handle on their risk in 2008, either. You could argue that, rather than too big to fail, some of them were too big to understand, too big to manage. Also, when all that leverage was sucked out at once, the whole world became correlated. That aggravated things. Hedges that people thought would minimize their exposures did not. It took a lot of liquidity and capital supplied by central banks to steady things.

Look, from an equity investor's perspective, the beauty of the world right now, and the negative, is that there's so much uncertainty, such a lack of confidence.

How would you invest $100,000 right now?

It depends on your age. If you're 22 years old, I'd put all of that into stocks. But that's me. Before I'd even answer that question, I'd ask: Tell me, how neurotic are you? Can you live with short-term losses? Can you accept the need to hold? Is your holding period 10 years, 20 years? Are you frightened of volatility? It's a cardinal sin if we think that one size fits all. And if you're looking at your mobile device every day to see what the markets are doing, to see if your $100,000 is up or down, that's not good.
Laurence_Fink  BlackRock  investing  investment_advice  liquidity  market_intelligence  questions  cash_reserves  lessons_learned  mistakes  idle_funds  confidence  problem_definition  unfair_advantages 
january 2013 by jerryking
Big Data Is Great, but Don’t Forget Intuition
December 29, 2012 | NYTimes.com |By STEVE LOHR.

A major part of managing Big Data projects is asking the right questions: How do you define the problem? What data do you need? Where does it come from? What are the assumptions behind the model that the data is fed into? How is the model different from reality?...recognize the limits and shortcomings of the Big Data technology that they are building. Listening to the data is important, they say, but so is experience and intuition. After all, what is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?
Andrew_McAfee  asking_the_right_questions  bubbles  conferences  critical_thinking  data_scientists  Erik_Brynjolfsson  failure  hedge_funds  human_brains  information-literate  information-savvy  intuition  massive_data_sets  MIT  models  problems  problem_awareness  problem_definition  problem_framing  questions  skepticism  Steve_Lohr  Wall_Street 
january 2013 by jerryking
Advice straight from the dragon's mouth - FT.com
May 25, 2005 | FT | By Doug Richard. ask Kemp these questions.

*Ask what problem is being solved with your product or service

*Talk to potential customers to understand the problem

*Know the cost to customers of the problem you are trying to solve so that you get your pricing right

*Define your customers as a group linked by a common problem

*Keep the business simple and focused on one mission and one target

*Protect your ideas where possible
angels  entrepreneur  start_ups  due_diligence  problem_definition  questions  simplicity  cost_of_inaction  problems  problem_awareness  awareness  consumer_awareness 
may 2012 by jerryking
Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)
Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.

The point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it. Here are 10 strategies to see problems from many different perspectives and to master the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!
The Problem Is To Know What the Problem Is

The definition of the problem will be the focal point of all your problem-solving efforts.
1. Rephrase the Problem
2. Expose and Challenge Assumptions
3. Chunk Up
4. Chunk Down
5. Find Multiple Perspectives
6. Use Effective Language Constructs
7. Make It Engaging
8. Reverse the Problem
9. Gather Facts
10. Problem-Solve Your Problem Statement
creativity  lifehacks  thinking  tips  problem_solving  Albert_Einstein  problems  problem_framing  critical_thinking  Philip_Mudd  uncharted_problems  thinking_backwards  problem_definition 
january 2012 by jerryking
The Dangerous Miscalculation of 'Scarcity Drives Innovation'
March 31, 2011 | BNET | By Sean Silverthorne.

If you want to be an innovative company, don't do it by cutting off resources in the hopes that it will inspire people to be more creative.

"This artificial scarcity can make people creative all right, but it makes them creative at finding resources, not at solving the central problem or inventing the next big thing," warns Teresa Amabile, a Harvard Business School professor who is an expert on creativity.

No, the real mother of invention is constraint. Hand a person a blank piece of paper, and they freeze about what to do next. But if the paper has a squiggle on it, they have a place to start.

For companies who want to be more innovative this means handing your bright people an idea with boundaries, Amabile says.

"Creativity-friendly constraints include: (1) a clear problem definition with clear goals, like the specific challenges of online innovation competitions, or the Iron Chef 'secret ingredient' constraints; and (2) a truly urgent, challenging need, like bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to earth."
scarcity  constraints  innovation  creativity  miscalculations  problem_framing  resourcefulness  problem_definition  urgency  life_and_death 
april 2011 by jerryking
Other Governments Lend Their Might to Design. Why Can't America? | Co.Design
Oct. 22, 2010 | Fast Company | by Thomas Lockwood. my
experience in Helsinki is a sign of things to come. The role of design
is expanding well beyond artifacts, communications, and experiences to
broader problem solving -- an interesting definition of "strategic
design" may be "design that solves the right problems." The whole notion
of "business transformation" can indeed be shifted to "government
transformation," if we dare try.
It's time for professional design managers to step up. We need serious
design leaders like never before.
design  problem_solving  leadership  Helsinki  transformational  problem_definition  problem_framing  policymaking  worthwhile_problems 
october 2010 by jerryking

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