The waitress came with the check, enclosed in one of those black leather book things. Since they were a table of 14, Ed was mystified as she unhesitatingly set the check down directly in front of him. He wondered: maybe, waiting table, you gradually learn to recognize groups from work, and then how to figure out who will be paying.
He looked at the check. A hundred ten dollars didn't buy as much pizza as it once did, but Ed was sure it was a good investment, and slipped a credit card into the black leather book. He leaned forward, to better see everyone. "I've got this," he said. "Why don't you all get back, and we'll reconvene at 1:30. OK?"
A chorus of 'OKs' and 'See you thens,' as chairs were pushed back and people arose. Marian remained seated. She leaned across the table to Ed. "OK if I ride with you? I have something…"
"Sure, soon as I pay this off."
After everyone left, Marian began, "I hope you aren't doing this pizza on your own."
Ed shook his head. "No, the company will cover it. Especially after someone figures out the answer on the way back to the office from here."
"You hope," said Marian.
"I'm sure it'll happen. It's the shower effect. You know, when it suddenly comes to you in the shower."
is often the key
difficult problemsWhen we work on a difficult problem, a sudden insight is often the key to the solution. By taking the whole group out to lunch, Ed has encouraged them all to put the problem aside, freeing them to stop working on it. And he hopes that that freedom will help stimulate sudden insight.
If we understand how sudden insights happen, and if we can make them happen sooner, we can solve problems faster and better. Here are some tips for generating sudden insights.
- You probably already know what you need to know
- Frequently, it turns out that the key to the solution was already in hand. Find new ways to look at the information you already have.
- Some of what you know is irrelevant
- Subtly clever solutions are often camouflaged by the irrelevant. Try throwing away items that you already know, and then examine what's left.
- The irrelevant often isn't
- Some of what you think is irrelevant might be relevant. Ask yourself, "What if this matters?"
- Abandon the usual approaches
- What makes the problem difficult is that your usual approaches aren't working. Try something completely different.
- Stop trying to solve it
- When you stop trying, you free your brain to stop using conventional approaches. This is one reason why the answer so often comes to us "in the shower."
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- Mickey Kirksey (www.Trane.com), Trane, Inc.
- I keep a note pad and pencil beside my bed, because I normally have those blinding flashes of insight as I am falling asleep and if I don't write them down, they fade like a dream and I can't recall them.
- Another reminiscent thought from the same vein, when I was a service tech, and could not figure out the problem, I'd call my wife and talk about nothing for a while. Suddenly, I'd realize the solution. Once I said, "Hey, thanks." she knew I had figured it out and she'd say, "Bye, glad I was able to help."
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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of our immediate surroundings. If you do — if you make your space uniquely yours — you'll
feel better about the time you spend at work.
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- Speech and writing at work are sometimes little more than high falutin' goofy talk, filled with puff
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 18: High Falutin' Goofy Talk: III
- Workplace speech and writing sometimes strays into the land of pretentious but overused business phrases, which I like to call high falutin' goofy talk. We use these phrases with perhaps less thought than they deserve, because they can be trite or can evoke indecorous images. Here's Part III of a collection of phrases and images to avoid. Available here and by RSS on July 18.
- And on July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
- A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
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As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. Lessons abound. Among the more important
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development. Read more about this program. Here's
a date for this program:
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Monthly Meeting, Cincinnati
chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis. Register now.
- Ohio National Insurance, 1 Financial Way, Blue Ash, OH: July 17, Monthly Meeting, Cincinnati chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis. Register now.
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