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Creativity tip: use the compass

>> 19 December 2010

Often enough when we have a problem we dive right into trying to solve it.
But how can we be sure whether the problem is really well defined?
Or whether it's the right problem we should be tackling?
There may be some underlying levels that we have not even thought about.

The compass technique puts you in the right direction.

  1. Start with a problem statement (preferably as a How to... question or  We need to...statement).
    We need to improve the level of attendance to our trainings?
  2. Then you ask: WHY?
  3. Whatever the first answer to this question is, write it down.
    Because the trainers are expensive and we need to make good use of their time.
  4. Then ask WHY? again and write down the next answer.
    Spending big trainings budgets for a small amount of people is a waste.
  5. Keep repeating this process until you feel you have reached a dead end.

From each response you can derive another How to question:
- How to get cheaper trainers?
- How to make best use of the trainers' time?
- How to organize trainings for few people?

These might be more fruitful areas of exploration than your initial question.

It is a very easy and quick but also very useful technique which you can slide into a meeting at anytime without anyone noticing :-)

It can help a team get unstuck, give new direction or perspective and often drills down to the very essence of the problem.


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