“Lets stay with this for a while longer, since the distinction we’re attempting to draw has implications that go well beyond leadership and into other even more abstruse matters, such as creativity and aesthetics. Managers, for the most part, deal with a mental process known as problem solving. Problem involves a problem, a method, and a solution that follows from the problem and method. A creative mental process occurs when neither the problem nor the method, let alone the solution, exists as a known entity. Creativity involves a ‘discovered problem,’ one that needs to be worked out from beginning to end. The highest form of discovery always requires problem finding. This is very like the identification of a new direction or vision for an organization. This is the difference we noted earlier between leader and managers; it is the difference between routine problem solvers and problem finders.
But how does one know whether a discovered problem or a creative idea is valuable? How does one evaluate that? If one decides, for example, to go from Los Angeles to Aspen by the shortest route, normal problem solving can easily solve that by finding the itinerary that best conforms to the parameters of the problem. But suppose one asked: Is it a good idea to go from Los Angeles to Aspen by the shortest route? Then reasoning and logic would have a hard time coming up with an answer. Cognitive criteria are not sufficient to evaluate creative solutions. But then how are they recognized? Why do constituents align behind one solution, direction, or vision and not another?
The best answer we can give to the venerable question is the the acceptance of a vision—-or any new idea, for that matter—-requires that the employees (or any audience) be willing to pay attention to the would-be creative contribution. However, we must quickly add that the acceptance of a new idea is never determined solely by the quality of that idea. Even the ‘best’ ideas are only as good as their ability to attract attention in the social environment. The conditions of that environment—-organizations in this case—-are inherently unpredictable: they can kill a good idea just as easily as a bad one.
The main clue is that leadership creates a new audience for its ideas because it alters the shape of understanding by transmitting information in such a way that it ‘fixes’ and secures tradition. Leadership, by communicating meaning, creates a commonwealth of learning, and that, in turn, is what effective organizations are.”
As stated, problem solving involves a problem, a method, and a solution. Unfortunately that involves problem solving methods generated as a result of our “programmed mind,” the way we usually problem solve. In some cases that can mean solving nothing, or even making the problem worse.
Problem finding involves a totally different process, “one that needs to be worked out from beginning to end.” Time consuming, but will, if done correctly result in the correct solution.
Leaders know that correct solutions are not made by sitting in an office, and directing others to do their “bidding”. Being smart does not replace genuine, forthright communication and discussion.
The Strategies For Taking Charge
Meaning Through Communication (continued)