Following on from the post, Take a Walk, a reader shares two creative approaches to problem solving:

In past years as a director of application development, I often mentored junior developers through the creative process of designing the solution to a problem we were faced with. The first radical approach was to have Friday mornings be a free-time. By that I mean my staff was to pick an idea for an experiment that they were intrigued by but which had no direct application to any work they were currently assigned to. This process was to stretch their minds to try things whereby there was no risk of failure. Simply experiment and see what happens.

The result?

Often, someone would rush into my office on Friday mornings all excited because they inadvertently solved a problem that was totally unrelated to what their experiment was that morning.

The other approach I took was to call my staff into an orientation session where I would use a large white board to diagram a problem that we had been asked to solve. I expected each participant in the session to copy down exactly what I drew on the board and ask any questions as they thought of them. After spending whatever time needed to completely frame the problem on the board, I would ask that the last person to finish note taking erase the board when they left the room and then instructed the group that when finished note taking, they were to close their notebooks, and not reopen them to the diagrams, nor discuss the session with anyone. In essence they were to “forget about it” – Not give the problem another conscious thought.

Any guess as to what happened after I instructed everyone to forget about it?

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