Most of us struggle with it, Einstein aptly lived it and stated it “You can’t solve a problem on the level it was created”. And let’s face it, Einstein was a pretty bright guy that had more than a couple of good ideas that translated into revolutionary products. He was the master of innovation before innovation was cool (or at the very least the latest buzz word). So perhaps there is some merit in these words of wisdom.
As one who makes my living solving problems I have done my utmost to adopt this at a DNA level. My interpretation of Einstein’s brilliance is simply this: if you tackle the problem doing the same things you are currently doing you are likely going to be disappointed with the results. To be clear I am not standing here on Mount High saying I have all of the answers, what I am saying is all of us need to “challenge” how we are seeing the problem and consider if it is:
- A Red Herring – a.k.a. a symptom in disguise. If you deal with the symptom only you may get temporary relief (think western medicine) but the root cause will continue to rear its ugly head until it is dealt with.
- What you know could cripple you - your perspective; that lifetime of experience you have is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness. It has provided you with a “filter” through which you put all information which causes you to jump over and over again to the same conclusion. Get a second opinion to see if there is a different perspective you haven’t/can’t consider.
- Believe it or not – nothing will change until you change your belief, period. In order to shift the collective belief you have to believe unwaveringly even when evidence is slim to nil. Whether you think you can or you can’t your right. Collective belief has brought down many a Goliath organization when a David has stepped into the ring and done things no-one thought could be done.
Examples of this are “fishing in the same pond” i.e. continually focusing on the same clients/market when the pond has been overfished or dried up. “Body building” i.e. continuing to add more bodies aka people to keep up with demand rather than overhauling the entire “broken” system.
If you hear “this is the way we have always done it”...whoa the ponies, step back and consider there may be a better way and acknowledge this problem can’t be solved on the level it was created.