By Matthew Spooner
How do you feel when faced with a challenge or an unknown?
What actions do you take in response to problems?
Who do you seek for advice when you have a problem?
Let's face it. Problems are a reality of life. Every day we make a multitude of decisions, some small and others with longer term repercussions. Chances are, when deciding on what to eat for lunch with colleagues, you are more likely to make a quick and instinctive decision. On the other hand, when deciding whether to invest into real estate property and where, you are likely to make a slow, more deliberate and logical decision.
Kahneman asserts that System 1 thinking involving associating new information with existing patterns, or thoughts, rather than creating new patterns for each new experience. Depending on our life experiences, upbringing, education, family and peers, we develop patterns in how we assess the world around us. Likewise, how we perceive problems and opportunities differ from person to person.
Recently while working with a group of 10 IT engineers, I shared with them a brainstorming tool I regularly like to use when facing a problem. "Starbursting" is a form of brainstorming that focuses on generating questions as opposed to quick answers or judgments to a problem.
How does "Starbursting" link to Kahneman's System 1 mode of thinking in which quick decisions are made based on existing thinking patterns or thoughts?
When faced with some problems, we may be conditioned to respond quickly and predictably based on past experience.
" Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
By repeating the same thought patterns in relation to making decisions, our System 1 mode of thinking may be causing us to stagnate and not move forward to where we could be.
As such, Starbursting could be a valuable tool to apply in generating questions in relation to a problem. By asking questions, our awareness of opportunities and implications can be magnified. For example, let's apply Starbursting to a problem a friend of mine recently shared.
1. Identify a problem and place it in the middle of a six-pointed star
My friend's problem he shared was written in the form of a goal. This can work too. So let's place that wording in the middle of the star: "I want to improve the quality of my communication with my spouse."
2. Write one of the 6 question words What, Who, How, When, Why, Where at each point of the star
Brainstorm questions beginning with these question words and write out these questions.
I recommend inviting close friends, colleagues and others you feel comfortable sharing your problem/challenge with and conducting a group brainstorming session to generate even more questions.
4. Develop an action plan with SMART actions (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound)
Identify an action plan focused on building momentum through the use of SMART actions.
Breaking patterns in our thinking can be daunting. Though by focusing on asking questions about a problem or challenge we are facing, we can explore the problem from different angles. Then, we can answer these questions before making a decision.
When to use Starbursting for brainstorming around a problem?
Based on my experience, I apply this tool at least once a week. The more I use the tool, the more insight I gain that benefits me in different areas of my life.
So give it a shot! And let me know how it goes. Happy Starbursting!
Co-founder and Managing Director, Crescendo Communications Consulting