How to Solve Problems and Promote Innovation

Written by Bulldog Drummond

On a recent flight we stumbled upon a great read in Southwest Magazine exploring a problem-solving approach used by Google Ventures’ Jake Knapp. Knapp is the author of Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas In Just Five Days.

In Knapp’s quest to optimize productivity, he developed an approach to solving problems. “A business, a small team, or even an individual is faced with a big question, an opportunity or a challenge. You clear the week and get everyone together. No electronic devices are allowed, and all work is done on paper. The goal is to develop a prototype of a solution by the end of the five days. On Friday you test that prototype on five target customers.”

The methodology promotes innovation while keeping the target goal in mind.

Knapp provides a few uncommon takeaways and how to implement them:

  1. React, Adapt, Evolve.

You can move a lot faster, and take more risks when you’re focused on creating the facade of something that works rather than a finished product, so the prototyping mindset is important.

  1. Structure Is Imperative.

With the sprint, there are a number of set activities that happen each day. I’ve found that if you create structure, people can focus on the work.

  1. Adopt A Collective Mindset.

Create activities at a group and individual level. Group brainstorms tend not to be as productive, which is why we share ideas together first and then devise solutions individually.

  1. Adamantly Implement.

Start on paper. It’s also important to consider a wide variety of solutions before committing to one. And give yourself big, long stretches of time to focus on just one thing. That’s the spirit of the sprint, and that’s what helps you do the most important work.

Originally posted on the Bulldog Drummond Blog.

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