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Monday, 11 April 2016

Problem Reversal

One of the tools we introduce in options generation for both category management workshops and supplier relationship management sessions is Problem Reversal.
Someone last week described Problem Reversal as a great way to shift your way of thinking, and viewing a situation. Two of the attendees used it on a real life situation. Having thought they'd previously assessed the situation accurately, they were both blown away by the solution they discovered by using this process.

In essence all you do is state the problem you've got, and ask yourself "how do I get even more of the outcome I don't want." For example:

  • If you've not got enough time to do everything the problem to work on is "how do I have even less time to do everything"
  • If you're wanting to eat more healthily the problem becomes "how do I eat unhealthily"
  • If you're wanting more life balance the problem becomes "How to I have even less life balance"
You then simply need to list all the ways you can achieve the stated problem. For example:

'How do I have even less time to do everything' becomes a list that looks like this:
  • Say yes to everything
  • Never say no
  • Offer to do more work
  • Don't ask for help 
  • Don't prioritise work
  • Never delegate to others
  • Aim for perfection for everything I do
  • Ignore the 80/20 rule
  • Work work work, and no play
  • Get really serious, and forget to laugh
  • Don't get enough sleep so everything takes me longer to do
  • Eat junk food so I can't concentrate
  • Don't drink enough water - ditto
  • Take no exercise 
  • Worry about everything 
  • Be negative
  • Tell myself it's impossible to do everything 
Do you get a sense that by being really absurd sooner or later you'll then realise how many of these activities you're doing, and then be able to identify an action plan to stop doing them?  

Exploring 'How do I eat unhealthily' would identify actions such as:
  • Don't plan what I'm going to eat
  • Don't have any food in the house
  • Get into the routine of using takeaways
  • Keep my head in the sand about healthy eating
  • Only have unhealthy food in the house
  • Don't find out how to cook easy and quick healthy meals
  • Only know how to cook healthy meals in 90 mins
  • Don't allow any time for cooking
  • Don't find out what options are available when travelling
  • Don't request healthy food when booking buffets at work
  • Don't have any healthy snacks in your bag so you have to use the vending machine
  • Only know how to make healthy foods you hate
  • Eat a whole cake a day
  • Fill the cupboards with sweets and cakes
  • Don't look for healthy options on the menu
  • Skip breakfast  
Again the aim is to be absurd, and to write all the ways we can eat unhealthily. Then turn them on their head, and investigate how to do the opposite - or at least not fall into the trap of doing many or all of these activities.

Considering 'How do I have l even less life balance' generates a list that includes:
  • Eat unhealthily (see list above)
  • Have no time to do anything (see list above)
  • Have no idea what my values are that motivate me
  • Work, work, work
  • Don't set any goals
  • Don't consider what's holding you back  
  • Prioritise work over everything else
  • Accept the belief that midnight emails, and weekend working is the norm and acceptable
  • Don't ask for help
  • Keep constantly on the go - on breaks, no rest, no time to think
  • Never go on a holiday
  • Become an adrenaline junkie 
The post where I shared the outcome of using the Transformation Game to achieve work/life balance may also be helpful.

Next time you've got a problem to resolve you may want to reverse it, and find out how to get into even more of a pickle first!


Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring change - inside and out  

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