Ilove it when I unexpectedly discover some bold new creative product. Being a lover of noir detective fiction I was pleased to learn of Megan Abbott, a modern writer who in my opinion is the female voice of Raymond Chandler. More recently a critic lauded the Sam Esmail created Mr. Robot a dystopan TV series that follows the exploits of a savant hacker who may or may not be the leader of an Anonymous-like association intent on bringing down society. What led me to stay interested is that both Abbot and Esmail make bold choices that offer a fresh take on well-established genres.
I encourage you to follow their example by going bold when getting ready to solve a problem. We are all out there meeting challenges and solving problems all day long. If “What do we do next?” is your strongest question….you need a healthy dose of bold. “Not so easy,” you say, “with all the naysayers and the ‘been there done that’ types I have to deal with at work…”
Back to artists; Is it easier for them to be bold? Some might say, “That is their job.” I’d say art makers, by their nature, are free of the same filters most of us have in the work place. Bold may be their starting point but the artists who wish to make a living still have to deal with the judgement of the market. Just ask Lady GaGa soon after the release of Artpop. Her entire “Mother of the Little Monsters” act fell apart on the ashes of that self-indulgence. Or ask Nic Pizzolatto how well True Detective Season 2 worked out for him.
So maybe at work we never get out of the starting block because we are slammed for even mentioning moving outside the lines. Or we manage to get enough support to try something new and we get “Told ya so…” as soon as it doesn’t win big. The difference between most of us at work and a true artist is that she is a life-long learner who attaches no shame to pivoting from less than successful products. GaGa resurfaced admirably first as muse for 90-year old Tony Bennett and then on the cult series American Horror Story. As for Pizzolatto, I believe anyone who can turn out a product as drippingly menacing as TD Season 1, has lots more bold stuff in him.
So, are you ready to push against eye rolls or pressure from above and get some bold problem solving going? Or will this be your path - , only asking “What’s next?” It’s the lowest common denominator of problem solving:
What do we do next? A? ok.
Now what? B? ok.
etc etc etc….Shoot me now!!!! because you are leaving off a huge part of the spectrum of possibility.
So maybe you add in some creativity to the problem solving. Some brainstorming, Maybe even a skilled facilitator as a guide. So now your problem goes from “What’s next,” to “How might we increase bottom line in Q3?” or “How to better on-board the new class of executives.” Sufficient? Maybe. Bold? Hardly.
What’s wrong with sufficient? It’s really about equal as “what’s next?” Are the best movies, books and music ever labeled sufficient? We keep consuming creative products because we want the new. The surprise. If the new also hits us as bold it’s headed for blockbuster territory. That is what bold means in your own problem solving.
Look again at “Increase the bottom line in Q3.” What might be the essence of the problem? More capital needed to expand? More value for greater profit. More profit into your pocket?
So how about…How to(H2) become the baddest kick-ass players in our market? or H2 make our sales/investor pitch magnetic? or H2 make our customer experience into a 5-star vacation?
Look at the words. Tactile - kick-ass; magnetic; Visual - 5-star vacation, Superlative - baddest. Bold is always trying to evoke feelings.....
Think of your most memorable experiences. What happened? Mine hit me in the gut. What if the problems you are working on each day did the same? If you are worried about wild and bold problem statements leading you or your organization into dangerous territory - the beginning of your problem solving process is the least risky place to find out. It’s all on paper and you have some steps and criteria ahead to tame a bold approach But what if the bold approach leads you to a significant new opening and unexpected levels of success? I know from experience it’s easier to tame a bold approach than try and make a sufficient approach bold. Bold often leads to unforgettable difference-making outcomes. If nothing else, maybe, just maybe, you and your team will have some fun in the process – leading to an environment that invites boldness…