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The blank canvas.

12 May

Ok, not to get all 12-step on you, but… the first step to solving a problem is admitting it exists.

In business, we often have more problems to solve than time on our hands. Ironically, challenges often begin with choosing which problem to tackle. Here are a few practical Drawing Down the Vision techniques which can help you prioritize and solve problems.

1. Create a blank page in your journal, notepad, sketchbook… and begin to sketch out all the problems you see yourself potentially devoting time to.

By attempting to create a visual representation of the problem you’ll be forced to think of it differently than you would with words. It may be difficult to start, but over time you’ll find your own voice.

Spend a minute or two on this, don’t dwell. Even better… come back with fresh eyes in a few days. Spend micro moments revisiting the problem in different places with different people with different ideas in your head.

At some point… it should seem obvious which problem is best to tackle. If not, keep mulling, or take a leap and move forward on any, you’ll learn through the process.

Blank Canvas, evaluating problems

Bill Gates asked, 'How do we put the best minds on the biggest problems?' I chose to explore what problems I could contribute to.

2. Once you’ve chosen which problem to tackle, find another blank page. Tag it with the problem… mark the header, sketch the problem right in the middle, whatever you think best outlines the solution you need.

This is your blank canvas, your home for exploring solutions to the problem. You may have nothing to include immediately, you may have so much that you need a few pages, but either way…. let this be the place you think out loud about the problem.

As you go through your day, ideas will be triggered by the different people, places, discussions… all sources of inspiration. Fantastic! Rather than losing those potential solutions, grab your sketchpad and put them in, immediately. Drawing Down the Vision is about collecting those fleeting ideas. The more random and unpractical, the better they can support new thinking, ways to re-evaluate a problem and come up with a practical, elegant solution.

Blank Canvas, collecting inspiration

My blank canvas for a project at work. No ripe ideas at the time of the photo. Now we wait.

To solve a problem, you need to be in a different state of mind than when you discovered it… in the words of Albert Einstein: ‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’ Revisiting your idea nest in the future is a great way to rekindle the thoughts, and see if there’s anything worth reapplying. Maybe you’ve discovered a solution you didn’t even know!

Again, these are not rules, just examples! So have fun, and share what you learn with us below.

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