Problem solving

Creativity and Problem Solving: materials for a course at Gloucestershire County Council

This workbook and slidedeck support the course that I am currently running at Gloucestershire County Council. Feel free to download both.

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Creativity at Work

Creativity-at-workCreativity at Work is one of my ebooks published by Bookboon.

Is it magic?  Can we really learn creativity?  And why should we bother?

When I told one of my clients that I was writing a book about creativity at work, he said: “Managers aren’t interested in creativity. They want to know how to manage better.”

Well, maybe.

Creativity has gained a reputation, among some managers at least, as a ‘fringe’ activity: quite fun, but of little practical use in the workplace. A friend of mine refers to it as ‘basketweaving’. And management – most managerial work – is, after all, about getting practical results. It’s about doing what works, and trying to do it better.

Management is about ‘making it happen’.

But what if making it happen isn’t sufficient? What if we need to make something new happen?

What if we need to do something differently rather than better? What if, instead of continuous improvement, we want discontinuous change? What if we want – or need – to create something new?

Of course, those needs might be written in to our job descriptions. Anyone in the ‘creative industries’ – and plenty of people outside them – need to think creatively as a matter of routine. Many of us – doctors, teachers, research scientists, engineers, consultants, marketers – frequently need to find creative solutions for unprecedented problems.

Sometimes, we need to be creative because external circumstances change. Our organisation undergoes a radical restructure; we suddenly face competition from new technologies; our customers start to make new and unexpected demands.

On other occasions, we want to be creative. We might be dissatisfied with our current situation; we may want to change direction radically in our work, our career or our life.

At times like this – when we need to, or when we want to – we need to engage a different kind of thinking: not the routines, protocols and habits of operational work, but different disciplines, different ways of using our imagination and our powers of logic.

Creativity is fun. And it’s also, for more and more of us, key to our success. If you’re interested in unlocking your creative potential, whatever your work, then this book is for you.


Creativity at Work

Creative thinking: a reading list

People often ask me to recommend books about creative thinking.  Here's a short list of the books that I've found most useful over the years.

A reminder: I run courses on creative thinking, problem solving and innovation.   Download these course outlines to find out more.

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Download 014_CO_Meeting_Problem solving_doc

Download 013_CO_Writing_Managing_Innovation_outline

Contact me if you're interested in working with me in any of these areas. 

First, some books I simply have to recommend, because I know the author so well.  Click on the covers to find out more.

Creativity-at-work 30minutesbrainstorm How to solve almost any problemAlchemy of innovation



Casting the reading net further afield, I would probably start - unsurprisingly, perhaps - with Edward de Bono.  He was enormously prolific, and the best book to start with might be Lateral Thinking for Management.  It introduces his core concepts: lateral thinking and vertical thinking, first- and second-stage thinking, and a whole lot more. 

Tudor Rickards is a source of great wisdom: Creativity and the Management of Change  has inspired me in all sorts of ways.  I also make use of Simon Majaro's book, The Creative Gap, and Vincent Nolan's The Innovator's Handbook.

Lateral thinking for management Creativity and the management of change








If you want more academic material, try these titles.  The Routledge Companion is edited in part by Rickards; and the material published by the Open University is unfailingly excellent.

Routledge companion to creativity Creative management







If you're looking for something a bit lighter but full of practical ideas, I recommend Roger von Oech's bestseller, A Whack on the Side of the Head.  (Von Oech has also produced a Whack Pack:  a set of cards that are great for stimulating creativity and creative conversations.)

Creative whack pack Whack on the side of the head

And finally, for a distinctly different approach to the creative process, you could take a look at Robert Fritz' book, Creating. 



The Human Givens approach: a short introduction

This free e-book appeared in my inbox the other day, courtesy of the Human Givens College.  It's worth sharing.  I find the HG approach very sympathetic, and, although I have no background in therapy or counselling, the body of ideas that I've found in the HG community continues to inspire me in my work on communciation skills, problem solving, creativity, persuasion and influencing.  It's also proved invaluable personally. 



This useful introduction is written by Julia Welstead.  Julia is a human givens practitioner with a private practice in Edinburgh. She also runs HG-based training days on mental health at work for a UK conservation organisation and workplace stress sessions for staff within companies, including banks.


Download and take a look, then hand it on to anyone you think might find it useful.

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Take responsibility, take ownership

In two earlier posts, I discussed blame and resistance.  Both are natural and predictable responses to problems that we place in our Circle of Concern:  the place where we put the problems life throws at us, and which we feel powerless to tackle.

Call them Presented Problems.

We usually express a Presented Problem as a statement of what’s wrong. There’s a perceived gap between what is and what should be.

Inside the Circle of Concern is our Circle of Influence. Into that circle we place the problems we feel we can deal with. Being more effective, according to Stephen Covey, means concentrating on the problems we can control. Being more effective means increasing our Circle of Influence.

But it’s not easy. Our wired world helps us to fill our Circles of Concern very easily. Yet, despite our helpless rage as we endure another night of Channel 4 News, it’s important to remember that we choose to put problems into one circle or the other. “Our behaviour,” says Covey, “is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

We take responsibility when we choose to take ownership of a Presented Problem.  Presented Problems happen to us: we’re not responsible for their existence, but we can take responsibility for dealing with them. 

Being responsible always means having an obligation to someone else, or to a group, or to society. After all, it’s other people who hold us responsible for our actions. So to be responsible is to enter into a kind of contract. We might speak of honouring our responsibilities. To be accountable means that someone can hold us to account for our responsibilities.

Most of our work, at work, then, is filled with responsibilities.



Responsibilities are paradoxical. On the one hand, like contracts, they have limits. Once we’ve discharged our responsibilities, we can walk away. It’s what we do at the end of the working day (some of us).


On the other hand, taking on a responsibility, like signing a contract, must be a free act. To be responsible for your actions is to know what you're doing – and to be free to choose not to. "A hero," said Bob Dylan, "is someone who understands the responsiblity that comes with his freedom."

Responsibilities tend to have certain troubling features. Here are just a few. (Think of your responsibilities at work, and you may see what I mean.)

  • Unclear goals. The person handing responsibility to us may not know precisely what they want us to do, or – even more troublingly – what they don’t want us to do.
  • Lack of control. If we had complete influence over what to do and how to do it, we’d be happier.
  • Lack of immediate feedback. We may have to check with others about aspects of the problem: information, deadlines, or criteria of success. And those people may be unavailable.
  • A mismatch between challenge and skill. We often have to assume responsibility for problems that are trivially easy, boring and tedious (call them chores). We may have to take responsibility for problems that are mind-numbingly difficult (call them headaches).

The best way to honour a responsibility is to know beforehand precisely what’s you’re taking on.


What’s the overall objective in tackling this problem? What outcome are you being expected to achieve? Do you have SMART goals (are they specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely)?


To whom are you accountable? And for whom are you accountable?


What precisely is the problem you’re taking on? How well do you understand it? How well defined is it?


Is there a deadline? Are there milestones that you will be expected to hit?


Where will your solution have an impact? How far does your responsibility stretch?


What authority have you been granted? What constraints or restraints will you be expected to operate under? (Restraints are the things you can’t do; constraints are the things you must do.) What resources are available to you? What support can you count on?

Responsibility may be the price of freedom, as Elbert Hubbard suggested. But it carries a mighty payoff. "Let us not," said JFK, " seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future." Blame and resistance look back; responsibility looks forward. Responsibility creates hope.

This post is based on material in my book,How to Solve Almost Any Problem. I run courses on problem-solving and decision-making. Check out an outline here.

How to solve almost any problem

Resistance is futile

Before you read on, please do this.

Count the number of pieces of clothing you put on this morning (pairs count as one), and write the number down.   Now, do a multiplication sum.   For example, for seven pieces of clothing, calculate: 7x6x5x4x3x2x1.

Did you do what I asked?  I’ll bet you didn’t.   My request interfered with your desire to read this article; and you resisted.   

In psychological terms, I tried to wrench you out of procedure.  And probably failed.

Procedural memory and why it’s good for us

Procedural memories underlie the routines that make us effective.   By repeating the same task repeatedly, we ‘pattern in’ the relevant networks in our brains until they fire automatically.   Before we know it, we’re driving the car, playing tennis, or getting dressed – without thinking.   

(Back to that calculation.   If you put on seven pieces of clothing this morning, you faced 5040 possible ways of getting dressed.   Hence the need for a routine!)

Getting dressed
Cartoon: Martin Shovel

Procedural memories have two key characteristics.   First: we must repeat them many times before they become embedded.   Second: once embedded, they’re permanent.   Even if you don’t ride a bicycle for years, you’ll remember how to do it after a few moments. 

As a result, procedural memories tend to resist being modified.   The more solidly imprinted the procedural memory, the more we resist changing it.   Remember the resistance that met decimal currency?  (Some of us remember!)

Throwing our toys out of the pram

We accumulate procedural memories over time.   Obviously, older people have more of them: more potential for resistance, perhaps.

But resistance isn’t just a sign of growing older.

ToddlerThink of the Terrible Twos.   Babies don’t resist.   That bawling is a clear demand for help: a fail-safe survival tool.   Who can ignore a crying baby?   As we grow up, we discover the power of these signals and start to use them deliberately.   And so the tantrum is born.   

In adolescence, we develop new needs.   Along with physical needs – food, water, sleep and exercise – we develop emotional needs: security; attention; intimacy; community; privacy; status; a feeling of competence and achievement; a sense of meaning in our lives.   Teenagers have powerful needs for both autonomy and belonging: threaten those needs and you’ll probably encounter resistance.  Ask any parent.

Resistance satisfies the important need to be in control.   But it can also do real harm.  Resistance, after all, is a form of stress.   

So we need to be able to manage it.

What need is not being met?

Start by recognizing the symptoms.   Are you putting off tackling the problem?  Or engaging in avoidance behaviours (‘I’ll just make a coffee first...’)?  Perhaps you’re indulging in malicious compliance: carrying out instructions to the exact letter, knowing that following the rules could inflict damage.   This kind of resistance – like denial – can be positively dangerous. 

Second, identify the need that’s being threatened.   Does the problem make you feel unsafe or exploited?  Does it threaten your sense of competence or status?  If you can find a way of meeting the need and solving the problem, your resistance might evaporate.

All things being equal (which they never are), our resistance to a problem is likely to decrease if we can make the problem more controllable, less serious, more urgent and less surprising.   If we can choose when to tackle the problem, so much the better.

What do you really, really want?

We usually resist because we feel powerless.   But sometimes, what threatens that need for control isn’t outside us; it comes from our deepest core.

Resistance includes desire.   Without the desire, what are you resisting? 

We humans are explorative solution-seekers more than problem-solvers: our natural urge is to look around for something better to do – or be.   (Think, again, of toddlers.)  As we grow, we sometimes resist our natural talent to find our true potential – because, to grow, we have to give up some control.   As Marianne Williamson famously wrote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.   Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

So: if you find yourself resisting, ask two questions.

What do I need right now? And what do I really want to do?

This post is based on material in my book, How to Solve Almost Any Problem.

How to solve almost any problem

What shall we do?

Closing the mind gap

Closing the Mind Gap

Ted Cadsby

BPS Books, 2014

ISBN 978 1 927483 78 7





China Miéville sets one of his novels, The City & the City, in two cities occupying the same physical space.  Citizens of each city, partly through choice and partly through political coercion, have trained themselves to ‘unsee’ the other city: to recognize the buildings and inhabitants of the other city without seeing them.  Crossing the cognitive divide, even by accident, is regarded as ‘breaching’ – a terrible crime invoking unspeakable punishments.

Ted Cadsby, in his ambitious and enjoyable new book, similarly invokes two coterminous worlds.  We live in both, but usually recognise only one.  The consequences of ignoring the other can be profoundly damaging.

World #1 is, in his description, ‘straightforward’.  In World #1, we easily differentiate meaningful signals from noise; patterns are consistent across different situations; feedback is direct, timely and clear.  In World #1, learning is easy and prediction is reliable.  World #1 is the world “in which countless generations of our ancestors lived and in which we continue to spend much of our time.” 

Fractal19World #2 is ‘complex’.  In World #2, signals are buried in noise; patterns vary across situations because each situation is unique; feedback on our actions is indirect, delayed and ambiguous.  World #2 has, Cadsby suggests, “snuck up on us”, principally in the evolutionary blink of an eye that witnessed the Industrial and Information Revolutions. 

The farmers of World #1 could reliably expect their predictions to turn out correctly (except, presumably, when they didn’t); the knowledge workers of World #2, in contrast, “cannot rely on simple cues and timely feedback to make decisions.”

Cadsby argues that our brains have evolved to navigate World #1 and are unprepared for World #2.   In fact, we have, figuratively, two brains: the ‘old’ brain, which operates unconsciously, and the ‘new’ brain, which has evolved over the past 100,000 years and which we think of as conscious.  We think automatically with the ‘old’ brain, and effortfully with the ‘new’ one.  But the partnership is unequal:  the ‘new’ brain has limited access to the ‘old’ one.  As a result of this ‘brain-brain’ gap, the way we think is not always matched to our modern world, and so we face the second challenge of a ‘brain-world’ gap. 

The challenge is to close the gaps.

Cadsby’s book works with an explanatory narrative of human cognition that has developed Old brain, new brainrapidly over the past decade or two.   The ‘left-brain-right-brain’ narrative of the 70s and 80s has gradually given way to an ‘intuition-and-rationality’ narrative, under the influence of psychology, complexity science, evolutionary anthropology, cognitive science and what’s loosely referred to as neuroscience.  Paul MacLean's model of the triune brain helped get the narrative going; Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, Stephen Mithen’s The Prehistory of the Mind and Chris Frith's Making Up the Mind have all made interesting contributions.  

Like its predecessor, the ‘intuition/rationality’ narrative relies on a satisfyingly simple dichotomy.  Where the earlier explanation concentrated on a lateral division between left and right brain, the new one emphasizes a vertical division, the ‘new’ brain (represented by the neocortex) sitting on top of the ‘old’, intuitive, emotional brain (represented mostly by the hippocampus and the amygdala). 

This new narrative has considerable explanatory power.  Cadsby argues that “our minds are meaning-making machines”: we predict the nature of reality by intuitively pattern-matching to pre-existing mental models, some inherited (like the ability to recognize a face), some learned (like the ability to ride a bike).  ‘Constructive realism’ is useful in World #1 because in this world the pattern-matches are usually more or less accurate; but in World #2, constructive realism falls prey to “greedy reductionism”: we oversimplify complexity and conclude overconfidently.   

Type 1 thinking, intuitive and automatic, will help us solve straightforward problems, but not complex ones.  It will help us read a novel but not write one; eat a meal but not cook it; watch tennis but not play it.  If we want to understand complexity more effectively, we need to invoke Type 2 thinking.

The catch is that Type 2 thinking requires concentration.  Where Type 1 is quick, Type 2 must be slow; where Type 1 operates in parallel, Type 2 can operate only one task at a time.  Much of the book is devoted to the strategies necessary to develop Type 2 thinking: study the problem landscape more carefully; pursue missing information; analyse causal relationships; and so on.  Cadsby suggests that we need to develop two types of Type 2 thinking:  Type 2.1, which helps us model complexity more accurately; and Type 2.2, thinking about thinking, which “brings us as thinking agents into the process of thinking”.  Cadsby calls Type 2.2 ‘metacognition’ and, with a Buddhist inflection, ‘mindfulness’. 

Bigstock-Are-You-Sure-45817090But we’re not inclined to do either.  We prefer Type 1 thinking.  For one thing, effortful thinking requires – well – effort, and we need to conserve cognitive energy.  Worse still, we’re addicted to certainty: we need to know, we need to be in control, and we’re desperate to enjoy the calm, pleasurable (intuitive) feeling of knowing that we have figured something out.  Ambiguity and doubt create too much discomfort.

Closing the Mind Gap develops this thesis in great detail.  Cadsby synthesises huge quantities of information and explains it elegantly.  This may not be quite a popular science book and it may not be quite a management book; but it's certainly a page-turner.  Cadsby is much influenced by Daniel Kahnemann (Thinking Fast and Slow), although he also cites the work of Robin Hogarth, Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Keith Stanovich, along with a host of experimental evidence to support his argument.  Along the way, he offers excellent accounts of theory of mind, the workings of the emotions, Bayesian probability theory and much more.  For anybody interested in understanding why we so often fail to think as well as we can, this book will be useful (though I wish his endnotes indicated his sources more precisely). 

And yet, and yet.  Something bothers me. 

To begin with, I’m not sure about these two worlds.  How do we distinguish #1 from #2?  Are they not both simply mental constructs?  After all, as Cadsby himself says:  “our earliest forms of conscious awareness enabled language, culture and innovation, and we began to create a new world for ourselves.”  We find ourselves paradoxically limited in our ability to understand the cognitive complexity that we ourselves have generated. 

DecisionsAnd then, understanding complexity is never the whole story.  The primary function of a brain is to enable an organism to move.  If “all life is problem solving” – as Karl Popper suggested – then, as Cadsby points out, “the brain interprets its environment so it can motivate actions that are conducive to thriving.”  Or, to quote José Ortega y Gasset:  “Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.”  The truth, however complex, matters less than the solution, which is not an answer but an intervention in the world.

Cadsby touches on decision-making.  He discusses the Taylor-Russell diagram; and he acknowledges, entertainingly, the provisional quality of all decisions.  But his advice on how to decide better is somewhat negative: we should qualify our conclusions with ‘probably not’, ‘could be’ or ‘it appears to me that...’  I’d like more emphasis on how to choose what to do, and how to manage risk. 

Perhaps Cadsby has picked up Kahnemann’s pessimism, along with the undoubted insights of behavioural economics.  It seems that that the best we can do is overcome – effortfully – our inevitable cognitive shortcomings.  For example, we read a lot about confirmation bias, availability bias and myside bias, but nothing about optimism bias: the tendency to assume that everything will turn out ok, which becomes a useful learning tool when surprised by failure or the unexpected.  (I’d like to see more in the book about learning.)  Rather than celebrating our successes in combining Type #1 and Type #2 thinking – in collaborative research, artistic production, business and diplomacy – Cadsby invokes the quietism of Stoicism and Buddhism to help us outmanoeuvre Type 1 thinking and the depressing negativity bias of our emotions.  (“The marginal value of eating and sex declines rapidly once we have had our fill, but the marginal value of avoiding danger never declines.”  Hm. ) 

What’s missing?

The clue may be in the ‘cultural big bang’ that Cadsby describes early in the book.  It’s a critical part of the narrative.  This was the moment, perhaps 50,000 years ago, when human LW109mithen2consciousness seemed to take a sudden leap forward, “fuelled by the ... ability to communicate complex ideas and generalize learning by applying insight from one task to different ones.”   Something happened to our thinking; something that allowed us to transcend the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 thinking and combine them; something that offered us the opportunity, not merely to generalise, but to create wholly new ideas.  Cadsby acknowledges that this cognitive leap expanded our working memories and enabled us to speculate about the past and the future.  But there’s a more radically significant element in this new ‘cathedral of the mind’, as Stephen Mithen has called it.  And Cadsby, I can’t help feeling, has missed it.

That element is metaphorical thinking.   

“The metaphor,” said José Ortega y Gasset, “is probably the most fertile power possessed by man.”  Metaphorical thinking has generated the massive potential for creativity that continues to drive our cognitive development.  Where, I wonder, might metaphor might fit into Ted Cadsby’s splendidly articulated argument?

The anatomy of blame

Red signalWhy do the signals keep failing between London and Reading?  

As we sit in the Dead Zone (somewhere around Slough), for the fourth or fifth time in so many months, I wonder: Why? 


It’s can’t be a simple technical problem; if it were, they would solve it.  (‘They?’) Perhaps it’s a complex technical problem. 

Of course, I have no idea of the answer.  But somewhere in my head, as helplessness turns to rage, I can’t help feeling that the real problem is that someone, somewhere, is to blame.   

When we feel powerless to solve a problem, we tend to respond in one of two ways.  We can resist, or we can blame. 

It’s all to do with ownership.  If we feel powerless, we tend to place the problem in what Stephen Covey calls our Circle of Concern.  That’s where we put all the problems over which we feel we have no control.

One way of dealing with powerlessness is to resist.  Resistance arises when we want to take ownership of the problem, and something’s stopping us.  Resistance includes the desire to do something; to take control.  Without the desire, what are we resisting?  It’s the friction between that desire and some other internal force that causes the resistance. 

But in the Dead Zone, it’s hard to feel any sense of ownership at all.  And so, instead of resistance, powerlessness turns to blame.

Blame is very interesting.  We usually solve problems by intuitively matching external information to mental models.  If we can’t pattern-match – because the problem is novel or complex – then we look around for any mental model that convinces.  And our minds default to an old, old pattern, in which the problem has been deliberately created by some mysterious conscious entity.  That pattern-match then offers a very clear solution: punish the perpetrator.

Blaming-GodBlame is magical thinking.  Stressed by uncertainty, we ascribe malign intentions to our partners or co-workers.  We hatch conspiracy theories.  We blame the government, the gods, or Fate. 

Blame overrides any rational perception that there cannot be a conspirator at work.  We shout at the dog when it ‘refuses’ to obey.  We kick the computer when it crashes. Blame sees no difference between people, animals and objects.

The principle seems to be:

When no cause is discernable, assume personal intent.

Blame is the dark side of ownership.  We wish to allocate responsibility for a problem, but we may well not want to take responsibility for it.  It's so powerful a response to powerlessness that it can be manipulated by those in power.  The usual tactic is to create a scapegoat: Jews, gays, Romanians...  There’s never any shortage of candidates. 

Blame is the great monster lurking at the heart of problem-solving.  It arises from a deep part of our humanity: the need to invoke some agent or agency that has caused the inexplicable to occur.  If we can name someone or something as responsible for our suffering, we feel better. 

The phrase ‘blame culture’ often refers to our sense that, in some organizations, allocating blame becomes institutionalized as a problem-solving method.  In a blame culture, problems may remain unsolved, but people feel a primal sense of satisfaction knowing that, when things go wrong, we can point the finger and gain some sense, however transitory or illusory, of justice.

Russell Banks’ novel, The Sweet Hereafter, dramatizes the way a search for retributive justice can feed on a sense of helplessness and become institutionalized in a society that promotes litigation as a way of solving problems. 

In Atom Egoyan’s film of the novel, an isolated Canadian community has been torn apart by a tragic road accident that has killed most of the town's children.  Mitchell Stevens, a lawyer, visits the victims' parents to profit from the tragedy by arousing their anger and launching a class action suit against anyone they can blame.  Stevens sums up his position when trying to convince one of the parents to sue:




“Mrs Otto, there is no such thing as an accident.  The word doesn't mean anything to me.  As far as I'm concerned, somebody somewhere made a decision to cut a corner.  Some corrupt agency or corporation accounted the cost variance between a ten-cent bolt and a million dollar out-of-court settlement.  They decided to sacrifice a few lives for the difference.  That's what's done, Mrs. Otto.  I've seen it happen so many times before... It's the darkest, most cynical thing to imagine, but it's absolutely true. And now, it's up to me to make them build that bus with an extra bolt, or add an extra yard of guard rail.  It's the only way we can ensure moral responsibility in this society.  By what I do.”

Especially in Ian Holm’s wonderfully understated performance, Stevens becomes a case study in how the manipulator becomes manipulated: a study in how blame corrodes, not only the blamed, but also the blamer. 

How, then, do we escape the blame cycle?  First: acknowledge that blaming is a natural, intuitive response.  Second: challenge the response. 

If you are blaming someone for a problem:

  • Stop generalizing: what makes this situation different?
  • Separate the problem from the person. Tell them that you are doing so.
  • Agree a definition of the problem.
  • Discuss who should take ownership.
  • Offer help.

If you are being blamed for a problem:

  • Separate the problem from yourself.
  • Lower your emotional arousal before responding.
  • Decide coolly whether you are responsible for the problem’s existence.
  • Look for help: someone who can see the problem coolly from the outside.
  • Decide the appropriate response: to hand over the problem, to take responsibility for the problem, or to commit to constructing a solution.  

Circle3.png.300x270_q85_crop_upscaleAnd what if we are working in a blame culture?  Can we avoid being infected?  It may be hard; but we can decide not to contribute to it. We can choose our conversations; we can choose whether to take part in the gossip and the backbiting, or to avoid it.  Above all, we can follow Stephen Covey’s advice and concentrate on the problems where we have some control.  We can seek to increase our Circle of Concern to our Circle of Influence.


There’s a very good piece on escaping the blame culture here.  This post is based on my book, How to Solve Almost Any Problem.  I run courses on problem-solving. You’ll find an outline here.

How to solve almost any problem

How to Solve (almost) Any Problem: slideshow for my presentation, Directory of Social Change, 23 May 2013

On 23 May 2013, I ran a session during the May Fayre at the Directory of Social Change in London.

DSC is an independent charity with a vision of an independent voluntary sector at the heart of social change.

Thanks to Chrissie, Annette and all the good people of DSC for their help.

'How to Solve (almost) Any Problem' introduces the problem-solving philosophy and practice that I developed in the book of (almost) the same name. 

You can buy copies of the book from Amazon.  There's a Kindle edition, too.

The slides for the session are here. Download DSC_How to solve_presentation_blog

Leadership Outside the Box: notes for my presentation at DSC, 23 May 2013

On 23 May 2013, I ran a session during the May Fayre at the Directory of Social Change in London.

DSC is an independent charity with a vision of an independent voluntary sector at the heart of social change.

Thanks to Chrissie, Annette and all the good people of DSC for their help.

'Leadership Outside the Box' looks at how to embed innovation in our organisations: what it is, why we can't ignore the need to innovate, how to create a sustainable innovation strategy, creative competencies, and a few thinking techniques that can help us cross from operational thinking into innovative thinking.

Much of the material in this session is based on my book, The Alchemy of InnovationThe book is no longer in print, but you can find copies on Amazon, on Bookfinder and on Abe Books.

The notes for 'Leadership Outside the Box' are here: Download Leadership outside the box.