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Think Like an Explorer

Learn to use the plural voice to consider options

Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 - 12:03

The key to being an explorer lies in what you do with your creative thinking and attitude, which allow you to consider different points of view. Like the explorer, you look for probabilities and possibilities. This is what is known as creative thinking skills: having the ability to create something new.

Because your mind recognizes patterns that cause you to think, “More of the same,” sometimes you need to challenge those mental blocks. You get locked into one approach, one method and strategy, without seeing other approaches. Creative thinking involves escaping from your obsolete ideas to new ones. Journalist Robert Wieder wrote, “Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative person looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.”

For you to strategically change probabilities into possibilities, you need to present the facts and figures to others as proof of merit.

I asked a client to consider different points of view for his job challenge, which was working to update and improve the process engineering documentation differently than what had been done in the past. From different points of view, he considered the following:

Manufacturing engineers: Are concerned about reviewing these documents again. They resist because they never looked at the processes and documentation to this level of detail, and the time investment that comes along with that. They are frustrated because they don’t even have access to the software to complete the job. Worrying about when they will find the time to work on the task.

Quality engineers: Are concerned because once they update that document, this document will need to be reviewed and updated to match. They are frustrated because they don’t even have access to the software to complete the job. They worry about when they will find the time to work on the task.

The manufacturing engineering manager: Is concerned because her resources are already spread thin between multiple projects and departments. Also, she’s concerned about the time investment it will take to complete the job. Then there’s concern that the engineers will not buy in to the new process.

The quality engineering manager: Is concerned because her resources are already spread thin between multiple projects and departments. She is also concerned about the time investment it will take to complete the job. She is interested about the opportunity to review processes to potentially identify and prevent potential quality escapes.

The company: Is delighted that it will be more proactive in identifying and solving problems. In turn interested in the positive financial impact on the company.

I asked another client to do the same. His company had launched OEE and Vorne System a few years ago, and the launch changed the way the company viewed and attacked losses in its business. The client’s challenge was data integrity as well as using the data consistently to the company’s advantage in making improvements. From different points of view, he considered the following:

The operator: Is required to scan a code when a downtime event occurs. The operator may not see the benefit in this extra step; therefore, the correct code may not be scanned.

The company: Wants loss reduction to ultimately reduce operating costs. Reduced operating costs leads to competitive advantage and job security.

The consumer: Wants price reductions and quality products on time.

The engineer: Wants data integrity to lead improvement projects.

Both clients looked for lots of possible right and wrong answers from different points of view. Both paid attention to their inner voice while strategically thinking about all the possible right and wrong answers.

Stop and give yourself time to think about the “big picture,” as did my two clients.

Give your mind time to analyze and comprehend all the information. Ask a friend or co-worker to review the information, then ask for their feedback. Once you receive it, begin to review your possibilities to identify potential problems you might have overlooked at the beginning of your exploration. Then, look for solutions.

Explorers use both hemispheres of their brains. They manipulate their experiences to bring into existence something new. They listen to their inner voice about what is most or least important.

There is a lot of truth to the phrase, “Never second guess yourself” because your inner voice is about what you already know from the past and feel about the future. Some people call that intuition; OK, that works as well.

The big question is, “Why don’t we think differently more often?” Because we are creatures of habit and routine, and we are not taught to think outside the boundaries.

Are you guilty of having a negative attitude, excessive stress, or making iron-clad assumptions? If you are, stop it.

Learn to use the plural voice to consider options: “What are the answers?” instead of, “What is the answer?”

Don’t fall in love with a particular style. Ask yourself, “Why is this method used?” Then ask, “Do these reasons still exist?”

Most of us have learned to avoid ambiguity because of the communication problems it can cause. Too many specifics, however, can stifle our imagination. Therefore, cultivate your own source of ambiguity by reading outside of your area of expertise.

Learn to ask “what if” questions like, “What if we had seven fingers on each hand?” or, “What if something would function without one of its main parts?”

Think like an explorer and become an adventurer.


About The Authors

Carrie Van Daele’s picture

Carrie Van Daele

Carrie Van Daele is president and CEO of Van Daele & Associates Inc. at www.leant3.com, featuring her Train the Trainer System for trainers and subject matter experts. Van Daele’s company was founded in 1993 as a training and development firm in the areas of leadership, train the trainer, continuous process improvements, team building, strategic planning, sales/marketing, workforce development, and general business consulting. Van Daele is the author of 50 One-Minute Tips for Trainers published by LogicalOperations.


Ronee Franklin’s picture

Ronee Franklin

Ronee Franklin is training associate of Van Daele & Associates. She has worked as marketing and training associate for Van Daele & Associates for seven years.