Creating Insights to help with Problem Solving

Insights the new ‘buzz’ word for coming up with great ideas can be hard to achieve.  However, the business and personal benefits of creating ‘aha’ moments not only increase bottom line profits, they also create ‘wellbeing’ and foster a ‘can do’ attitude in employees.

What are the conditions to create Insights?

  1. Coaching

Great Managers spend time coaching employees in order to encourage empowerment and a sense of ownership.  It is important to focus the coaching conversation around ‘solutions’ and not dwell on the ‘problem’.  All too often, coaches want to get the story around the problem and the ‘coachee’ will be only too happy to oblige.  From a brain perspective, this hard wires the neurons to focus on problems.  Not a place, to gain insights!

So, when you are coaching, spend time truly listening and asking questions that generate insight.  Take time for the coachee to respond, use silence as a place for them to contemplate options and ideas.  This is more likely to generate insight.  When insight comes, write down the ideas and solutions quickly, before the brain forgets the information.

  1. Have time alone

In between meetings, try and take a walk outside so you have time to think.  When we exercise and have fresh air, dopamine is more likely to kick in and this brain chemical is necessary when generating insights.

Have you ever had a great idea whilst in the shower or going for a run?

For most of us, time alone with our thoughts are often the times when insights are generated.  Your brain is constantly bombarded with information throughout the day, as a result it has difficulty processing the data required to allow you to think logically.  It doesn’t have the capacity to create insights when there is a deluge of information.

Give yourself a break and take time out during the day to just be lost in your own thoughts.  Going for a walk will not only help your waistline but encourage your brain to have time to generate solutions.

  1. Be positive

Being anxious or tense creates a lot of noise for the brain and cancels out space to generate insights.  Cortisol the stress hormone plays a key role in keeping anxiety levels high.  You need to be feeling slightly happy to create the conditions to produce eureka moments.

If you are feeling grumpy when tackling a complex decision, do something else to lift your spirits.  I call this ‘change your state’.  Think about something that makes you happy or go and talk to a colleague about non-work issues and you will have ‘changed your state’.

  1. Use less effort when making decisions

Research shows that if you take a break from thinking about an issue, you unravel unconscious thoughts.  Therefore forget about the problem by doing another task or activity.  Trust your unconscious mind that it will find a solution.

Have you ever woken up and had the answer to an issue?  Giving your brain time to process all the information often results in great insights that would not have been possible, just by thinking logically.

Hidden yet powerful cognitive processes occur outside conscious thoughts.  The phrase ‘I’ll sleep on it’ does create insights.