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Problem Solving

Why brainstorming doesn’t work

Brainstorming is used in virtually every organization to generate ideas and explore options. But there’s a problem with brainstorming: It doesn’t work. Six decades of research shows that group brainstorming often fails to produce more or better ideas than people working independently. In fact, a meta-analytic review—which combined the results …

Where is your bright spot?

I’ve been a problem solver for most of my life. I was an astrophysics major in college, trained to solve problems in math and physics. I served on the Mars Exploration Rovers mission, identifying and preventing potential problems in the rovers’ operations. I later became a lawyer, tasked with identifying …

The secret to asking better questions

It’s been a travel-filled year for me, as I’ve been on the road frequently to give keynotes. When I’m checking out of a hotel, I almost always get the same question. How was your stay? I smile and respond with a cursory “It was good” (even when it wasn’t) and …

The one question I ask myself frequently

Back when I was a professor, I was appointed the chair of a faculty committee. At the time, the committee had a decades-old practice of holding meetings every month. Having sat through—no, suffered through—these meetings as a junior committee member, I knew we could cut the number in half and …

Development Alchemy + Aim