Stuck on a problem? Shift your perspective.

“We can’t solve problems
by using the same kind of thinking
we used when we created them.”
Albert Einstein

Here’s a thought for today. To solve problems you have to think differently. I’ve noticed I often fall into the trap of using the same narrow thinking to solve a problem that created the problem in the first place. The challenge is how to shift your perspective on the problem.

One technique I’ve always found useful is brainstorming. As long as you avoid judging the suggestions the group presents during the brainstorming session, it has the potential to give you alternate ways of viewing the problem. I prefer to use whiteboards or large sheets of papers to write down ideas. That way the group sees the other suggestions as well as hears them, giving you a greater chance that previous ideas will spark new ones.

Another technique I often use is talking the problem over with someone who has no relationship to it. If it is someone outside of the project they shouldn’t have the same history clouding their perspective. When I do this though, I always have to remind myself to explain the problem as objectively as possible and then listen. Only listen. If I keep talking, sometimes explaining how I think the problem occurred or justifying my actions, the feedback on the problem isn’t as good.

And finally, my favorite technique through sorting out a problem is going for a walk. There’s something about stepping away and getting outdoors. I usually let my mind wander for a time as it sorts through everything. It usually doesn’t take much conscious effort to start seeing connections among thoughts and experiences that I had previously missed.

What do you do to shift your perspective?