Today’s blog entry is guest written by Kristin Neperud Merz of www.unscribbled.com where she has been designing, branding and doing all things creative since 2000. Kristin also serves Catalyst Ranch as a Creative Strategist and is our designer of all things digital. She is also the writer of ”Unscribbling: The Art of Problem Solving and Fulfilling Your Ideas” from which the following is excerpted.
If, while you are solving a problem with others (or what I like to call “co-unscribbing”) you run into a big “but” type of person, take a moment to look at their “but” before you dismiss them as uncooperative. For in their “but” is possibly another objective to consider, or a way to clarify your current objective. (Wow, I fully acknowledge how wrong that sounds! Please forgive me for this… I’ll warn you though, there are more wrong sounding statements to come.)
Let’s look at an example of the company looking for ways to remain viable and are brainstorming ideas. One of the managers suggests, “We could go after a new target market, BUT then we need to advertise, and that costs money. We need to save money, not spend money.” This “but” can help you clarify your objective, you just need to dig into your “but” a little more and flip the negative part of the statement into a positive one to find the hidden objective. So, now the desire may become, “We desire to be a viable and growing business while being as cost effective as we can be.”
For the most part, try to keep your “buts,” like this one, out of the brainstorming part of the process, save them until you get to the phase where you are deciding on a solution to explore. However, if someone can’t resist, listen to them and clarify the objective you are brainstorming, or ask them to write it down so it is considered later when you are narrowing down the possible solutions. Whether you clarify right away, or hold it to the vetting stage, the “but” contains insight, and will help you choose a solution to explore…
The point is, in the “but” there may be a clarifier that will help you down the road. To ignore the “but” will do two things:
1. Annoy the “but” person, making him shut down, get hostile, or stop contributing. And/or:
2. You might overlook a necessary qualifier to your objective that will help in the problem solving process.
By listening and acknowledging, you have kept the person open, thinking and contributing solutions. You have also helped focus the group’s thinking.
I recently designed a postcard for my client, My Charmed Life (MCL). They sell charms and charm bracelets. (Love this client! Be sure to check them out at www.mycharmedlife.com) The postcard was to be handed out to attendees at a sorority event. The objective was to promote MCL and distribute a charm, which was attached as a gift for the attendees. We created a piece that fit the MCL branding and met all of our other desires. When MCL showed the design to the event coordinator, she said, “BUT the theme is rock star oriented, so the postcard should be edgier looking.” Okay. That would have been a good “but” to know earlier, but we progressed.
We created a new design that fulfilled all our old desires as well as the new desires. This time the event coordinator said, “BUT now it’s too edgy. We have alumni coming to this event and we can’t look that edgy!” Okay… So edgy, but not. Got it. With this clarification, the third design hit the mark.
Had we heard all those “buts” at the beginning of the process we would have saved ourselves a lot of time. So, listen to the “but” guy, even if you’d like to tell him where to stick it!
“Confront issues and challenges – not each other.” – Suzanne Mayo Frindt
Takeaway: By acknowledging resistance to solutions you may find ways to clarify your objectives or narrow down your solutions.