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Training the Work Brain to Solve Complex Problems

Most organizations’ employees are ill-equipped to collaborate with their colleagues in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. The very nature of complex problem-solving is not friendly to the human brain because the brain:

  • Craves certainty in a world that is anything but certain
  • Has millions of ‘mental maps’ stored in its implicit memory but limited access to them
  • Fatigues easily and so prefers quick solutions instead of spending time and effort ‘drilling down’ to reveal real problems (instead of symptoms) and to generate better solutions
  • Has a natural negativity bias and so tends to rush to judgment and criticize others’ thoughts
  • Has built-in error mechanisms that tend to kill new ideas and dwell on old habits
  • Is highly social in nature and so is very sensitive to others’ comments – resulting in turning on ‘fight or flight’ networks which makes group problem-solving difficult and kills creativity
  • Is highly emotional in nature in organizational work cultures that suppress the expression of emotions
  • Resists change which makes implementing action plans very difficult

It is no wonder that the majority of organizations struggle with implementing innovation programs and are not adaptable enough to deal with a regular onslaught of complex problems. Strategic planning efforts fail to uncover the organization’s underlying problems and become mechanical exercises that lack rigorous and creative thinking.

Introducing the Simplexity Thinking System

The Simplexity Thinking System is a method of applied creativity that links a process of creative problem solving with skills and tools to make that process work. Invented by Dr. Min Basadur of Basadur Applied Creativity, the system is a simple, experiential and inclusive approach to innovative thinking, problem solving, decision-making, strategic planning and implementing valuable changes. Applied creativity emphasizes opportunities for discovering improvements in products, processes, teamwork, and the implementation of innovative solutions to everyday problems.

Simplexity overcomes the natural biases and limitations of the brain by:

  • Encouraging participants to become comfortable with uncertainty by introducing a process that helps them navigate complex issues
  • Helping people ‘drill down’ to access their hidden mental maps via specially researched and designed questioning techniques (‘How Might We?’; ‘Why? What’s Stopping Us?’)
  • Overcoming our innate negativity bias by teaching skills such as deferral of judgment, diverging vs. converging and eliminating ‘killer phrases’
  • Teaching a process, skills and tools that ensure that people better collaborate, listen and learn from each other and better leverage their combined brainpower
  • Helping teams resist the urge to rush to quick solutions and engage in a process that helps them unearth real problems and generate more creative ideas
  • Encouraging the expression of emotions, which is essential in the creativity process
  • Overcoming a natural resistance to change by introducing a rigorous action planning process
  • Helping participants understand their natural problem-solving tendencies and creating teams with a diverse set of problem-solving abilities

The Simplexity Process