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Leadership Masterclass: How to solve your present problems from the future

Kyle Hermans on Mastering Creative Problem Solving


There are 4 ways leaders and their teams approach problems:

1.     They’re so locked in they don’t see the problem.

2.     They see the problem and don’t do anything about it.

3.     They see the problem and solve it.

4.     They anticipate the problem and solve ahead of it.

No prizes for guessing.

We all want to be on team #4.

Mastering creative problem solving

So, what’s the trick to consistently solving problems or preventing them in the first place?

Mastering Creative Problem Solving, our masterclass with Be Courageous CEO Kyle Hermans, threw up some great ideas.

We've pulled together a summary of a few of our favourites.

And, at the end of this article, how some of the masterclass participants inspire themselves to be creative.

Make creativity a daily practice

First, Kyle says another word for creativity is courage.

Out of necessity, many of us found the courage to be creative over the past year.

Creativity requires:

·       mindset, energy, action, inspiration, and intention.

So master these and plan to make creativity a daily practice.


Our operational mind is wired for procedures, predictability, and comfort.

Our creative/innovation mind is wired for speculative thinking; it’s excited about the unknown.


So, to move energy to your creative mind, simply throw something completely irrational and absurd at it.

·       Need a new way to sell painkillers? Talk to a dominatrix.

·       Need a new form of transport? Mash up cocktails, butterflies, running shoes.

If you look at it as an alternative reality, an alternative world, possibilities open up.

Solve for the present from the future.

Most of the time we look to the past to create the future.

Instead, try creating the present by looking to the future.

Take your mind into the future. What it might sound like, taste like, let your imagination go. What is the next step you could today to get there?

Take your mind into other worlds – the ocean, space, movies, the natural world. You can go mentally anywhere and problems in one world can be solved in other worlds (biomimicry shows us this).


Cheesecake solution method

Notice how your attention is held for 6-7 seconds but then it brings you a thought completely irrelevant to the conversation (like cheesecake).

Instead of ignoring the interruption, pay attention to it.

What about cheesecake could be an inspiration for solving your problem? Could you collect ingredients and devise a recipe to solve your problem?

Write down your errant thoughts. If a to-do list pops into your head, write it down.

Different types of thinking

There are 4 different types of thinking:

·       Thinking governed by conditioning: fight, flight or freeze, bias/prejudice, scarcity/beliefs.

·       Thinking governed by rationale: logical, first principle, sequential, scientific.

·       Strategic creativity: new original thinking, absurdity, approximate thinking.

·       Ungoverned thinking: prayer, trance, insanity, wild and crazy.

Fight the filters in your thinking

Humans are filled with bias.

 External events pass through filters on way to our brains and gut. As a result, they're distorted, generalized, dismissed, or deleted.

To overcome this, try moving from rational thinking to outrageous thinking.

Play with those ideas you'd normally dismiss.

After all, yesterday’s illegal/immoral idea (accepting lifts from strangers) is today's UBER.

More creativity, not less, is needed as you grow

Idea – Concept – Feasibility – Develop – Launch – Post Launch

Creativity is needed more the closer you get to launch – because you have more problems to solve.

To increase this creativity, people need to have buy-in, feel part of the process, and they need to be invited into a safe environment.

Safety and creativity

We must feel safe before we’ll share ideas, thoughts.

A punishing environment stops the flow of our energy towards a shared task as we’re too busy protecting ourselves.

So, if you want more people to work on big things – mastering creative problem solving – you need to start making an environment that is safe.

4 futures ahead of you

What type of company are you?

·       Disrupt (want to be first).

·       Blue sky (want to be smart).

·       React (want to be responsive).

·       Safe sustaining (want to be best).

All are valid, but if you can disrupt yourself, and can rely on creativity, you can make courageous breakthroughs.

After all, you have 4 futures ahead of you:

·       The future you chase, the future you defend, the future you improve or the future you create.

So, carve out 15 minutes of creativity time in your calendar tomorrow:

·       Sit and think creatively about your future.

·       Appreciate things that are around you and connect you.

·       Try to do it every day for a week.

·       Try to do it every day for a month.

Move towards what you want, rather than away from what you want. What would the future look like if those problems didn’t exist? 

Ideas from masterclass attendees

Here's a selection of ideas our attendees promote creativity in themselves and others:

  • Ask, "what do you think we should do?"
  • Make time.
  • Ask the question "How might we?"
  • Change locations.
  • Plan thinking time.
  • Invite alternate perspectives.
  • Space to brainstorm.
  • Get out of the office.
  • Open discussions.
  • Try to ask the right questions to encourage creativity.
  • Going to a different physical space (i.e. to the park or my balcony) to do creative thinking.
  • No hierarchy on ideas
  • Crush assumptions.
  • Spend time to ask curious questions rather than assume.
  • Set the time to brainstorm...look at ideas that "could get us fired"...and then flip it...and see if there is possibility.
  • Share the future / macro thinking and thought leadership.
  • Make co-workers feel safe and opinions valued.
  • Ask questions from different departments and insights.
  • Talk it out with others.
  • We do so by: 1 ensuring our people are safe. 2 setting the mood.
  • Talk to other team members/bounce off.
  • Schedule focus time.
  • Think this is why I read so much scifi and fantasy.
  • Need to change from the traditional whiteboard to online whiteboard to capture collaborative idea with WFH way of working.
  • Block time to think, plan, visualise, read.
  • I ask questions. If people come with a problem I ask for 3 possible solutions.

If you'd like to increase your professional development why not consider becoming a member of The Growth Faculty? One membership, unlimited access to 30 live virtual Time For Transformation masterclasses and the best live virtual events - PLUS year-round leadership content On Demand with videos, podcasts and book summaries. Join a community of knowledge seekers who are inspired by the best. Access $4350+ value for just $398 AUD. See who's up next.


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