Are we solving the right problem?
We mentioned Matthew E May's book, Winning the Brain Game, in an earlier newsletter. One thing May explores is how teams rush to find solutions without really wondering if they are solving the right problem. He suggests we get an addictive hit of excitement from idea generation that draws us away from more careful analysis.
One counter-measure he suggests is a process called framestoring. Essentially, you take an initial statement of the issue or problem and get people to generate lots of different ways of stating the problem.
For instance, the initial problem statement could be: how do we increase bookings at our restaurant? But maybe we need to think about whether this is the real issue... a framestorm could get us to think about broader issues around profitability, or what sort of restaurant we think we are, or whether we should be in the catering business at all.
We've tried this out as a short preamble to other activities and found it helpful in broadening perspectives.
Further reading: Fastcodesign article on generating questions instead of ideas.
We also believe that more reflective processes can also allow deeper questions to come to the surface. Sometimes it's better to let go of timed processes with fixed outputs and create more space for reflection. We often find this surfaces much more useful questions without pushing people too hard in any one direction.