The way we talk about our problems says a lot about how likely we are to solve them creatively. When we state a problem as a fact, it becomes a heavy weight. For instance: Nobody’s been able to model the XXX process. Indeed, that’s a problem. It’s also a negative statement – already a downer – and it doesn’t lead to any ideas. It’s a static problem.
A productive problem is one that’s phrased as a question: How might we understand how to model this process? It asks you to wonder about the problem, and even suggests other questions: In what ways is it like other processes that we can model? How might we understand and model aspect of it piece by piece? A problem posed as a question invites ideas that might be a solution. Not even just one solution; an open-ended, wondering question hints that there might be many approaches that could work. Keep reading »