Tag Archives: problem-solving

Think better

Have you ever been presented with a problem and delivered an expected solution? Most likely.

This is the usual response when addressing a challenge. We employ known ideas, known methods to deliver a known solution. Those who know me, will attest that I am a conservative thinker, but I’ve been challenged recently to think a little differently. This isn’t different for the sake of being different, this is in an attempt to deliver solutions that go beyond the easily digested and expected outcome.

I do not believe we should be diverging from an established path simply ‘just because’; but if there is an opportunity to be truly innovative that could potentially deliver a shorter or more efficient route for future challenges, then I suggest it must be considered.

Case in point is the marrying of social welfare and economics. Did you know it costs over $4 billion to simply administer the social welfare system in Australia to deliver $165 billion in payments (source: Australian Government Dept of Human Services 2014-15 Annual report)? That’s a weekly outlay of $3 billion with an administration cost of $80 million.

Traditional thinking has been to tweak eligibility requirements, strengthen the compliance framework, modify or revise payments… an alternative view is to replace the system entirely with what is known as a universal basic income. At its simplest, a basic income is a common universal payment to each and every member of society, irrespective of income or employment status or health profile. This payment would be designed to meet the basic living costs and, perhaps surprisingly, is not a new concept. It can trace its origin back to the 1800’s with it afforded greater prominence in the 1960s (thanks to noted economist Milton Friedman) and has been the topic of debate periodically since. Finland is trialling this concept.

Now I’m not intending to deliver economic or social rationale for either of these approaches in this post, that’s for you to discover! I am hoping, though, to encourage all of us to innovate our thinking by exploring an alternative view to a current challenge, seeking to understand its merits or otherwise.

If we want better solutions, we need different thinking, better thinking.


How far is the extra mile?

Many of us have used the old saying about ‘going the extra mile’ when someone, or perhaps ourselves, have done a little more than expected, more than just enough.  A mile, though, can be a long way: 1.6 kilometres, 1600 metres, 5280 feet!

Going this proverbial extra mile, though, is rarely that “far”. Often, this extra mile requires only a minimum extra effort, a few minutes, perhaps, of our time. This doesn’t seem as far as 5280 feet!

I have found the extra mile is common with some people, whilst for others it appears a truly foreign concept. The one thing I have identified with those who regularly travel this additional distance, is a slightly altered outlook. Thinking is not ‘what is required?’, rather the thought ‘what else can I do?’ prevails.

By starting an activity, a process, a relationship with a slightly different perspective we can deliver a significantly different result for both others and ourselves.

Going the extra mile builds problem-solving capacity and strengthens our relationships.

Going the extra mile is solution-oriented, not task-focused.

Ultimately, going the extra mile is really not that hard! Let’s make 2013 a collective year of going the extra mile. After all, it’s probably only a few steps.


Image credit: iakov / 123RF Stock Photo

Stuck in the middle

It seems as a dad I am often in the midst of conflict between one or more of my four boys. I’m not refereeing a contest but rather negotiating a truce or facilitating the previously agreed peace plan!

Learning how to effectively manage being stuck in the middle is a key aspect of fatherhood. If I bring my impatience to the conflict then I only reinforce the behaviours my boys are probably exhibiting. If I bring a reactionary negativity then I am not empowering my boys to problem-solve.

As well as managing our role in the middle, it is important for us fathers to be mindful of when we need to step in and when we need to quietly observe from the sidelines. There have been many times when my boys have worked out their disagreements themselves and continued playing. There have also been many times when parental intervention was necessary!

Learning to distinguish between these very different scenarios will create more proud parenting moments as we witness our children successfully resolving conflict. It will also reduce the risk of us parents being seen as interfering!

Let’s use our time in the middle well.


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos

Yes, I own a people-mover…

Being the proud dad to 4 boys almost demands that my garage is occupied by a people mover. This vehicle has certainly moved lots of people beyond our immediate family over the past 5 years including road trips to North Queensland and New South Wales’
Central Coast plus countless adventures to soccer grounds far and wide!

This travelling takes it toll –  a noticeable shake seemingly consumed the car with my astute mechanic identifying loose engine mounts as the cause.

Rectifying this problem took a few hours, a few dollars and a small measure of inconvenience. The result however was outstanding! Immediately smoother ride, less noise and the CD player boomed back into life. Yep, replace the engine mounts and the CD player is restored!  I suspect the constant bounce caused by the loose engine mounts wreaked havoc with the CD laser diode and sensor; a smooth ride now means the CD player can do its job.

I take from this a genuine life principle: when you correct one major problem, other minor problems are also fixed in the process. I was planning to address the CD issue
as a stand-alone problem, separate to the more significant engine mounts drama.

Sometimes we need to tackle the big issues first – invest some time, heed the
wisdom of experts, incur a cost and expect to be inconvenienced. The bonus
results though may surprise you!

Let hope rise.

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