Leaping for Answers

August 16, 2021

On a day-to-day basis we’re regularly faced with routine problems that require our attention. We use established frameworks to help solve these problems effortlessly and efficiently.

The frameworks we use to solve these routine problems are what allow us to pick up a glass of water without thinking. Or drift off into thought while driving and still end up at our destination safely.

While these frameworks are largely beneficial for problem solving, they can often lead us towards inelegant solutions. We end up leaping for the answer before we take the time to weigh the situation.

Matthew E. May put it best in his book, Winning the Brain Game: Fixing the 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking.

Suppose you’re playing a video game that gives you a choice: fight the alien superwarrior or three human soldiers in a row. The game informs you that your chances of defeating the alien superwarrior are 1 in 7. But your chances of defeating the human soldiers are 50-50. What do you do? Most people would automatically fight the human soldiers. It seems to make intuitive sense, the odds seem to be in your favor.

But they’re not. Your probability of beating the three soldiers in a row would be ½ x ½ x ½ or 1/8. In other words, you had a better shot (1/7) at beating the alien superwarrior. You leap, you lose.

When we make leaps, we’re taking the problem at face value and using our default framework to solve it. But our default framework can often leave us open to unconscious gaps in our thinking. Gaps that we’re not aware of. To fill these gaps, Matthew recommends Framstorming.

Framestorming takes our attention away from finding the answer and instead focuses our attention on asking the right question. And in order to ask the rightquestion, we need to ask more questions. Often asking, Why? What if? And How?. By asking these questions, it allows us to dive deeper towards the heart of the problem.

The reframing of the initial problem begins to shift the way we think or perceive it. Leading us towards a more elegant question that then become the catalyst that drives us towards the best solution.

While our default frameworks can help us effortlessly and efficiently solve problems, the problem we face in business are often never so black and white. These frameworks can often lead us towards leaping for an answer before we’ve taken the time to reframe the problem. This leaves us open to the unconscious gaps in our thinking. By avoiding leaping and taking the time to understand the situation, we can dive deeper towards the heart of the problem and find the question that leads us towards the most elegant solution.