Changing your perspective and asking the right questions leads to innovative answers and business success.
Asking the right questions is key to problem solving, believes Stephen Shapiro. The popular meetings industry keynote speaker and author of Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems spoke to a riveted group of planners and suppliers at Prevue’s recent Innovate! Visionary Summit at the Eau Palm Beach resort. His strategies on how to look through different lenses to achieve business success reflects an innovative approach to problem solving. “We don’t need more ideas,” said Shapiro. “We have to change perspectives and learn how to formulate the problem.” This approach, he said, will reveal hidden solutions to important opportunities.
To explain his innovative approach to business success, Shapiro walked the audience through a series of inquiry, starting with defining a specific challenge or opportunity. He said that thinking about the problem, and looking looking for opportunities behind the idea, is an essential first step. “You always have the right answers—sometimes we just ask the wrong questions,” he said.
When starting with a basic question, said Shapiro, think of how to rephrase it in new ways. So the question “how can we get more clients?” could become “how can we increase revenues?” or, “how can we get more clients that are profitable?,” or, “how can we get fewer yet more profitable clients?” Another example is the common problem at airports where baggage claim is excruciatingly slow. Instead of asking “how can we speed up the bags?,” said Shapiro, we can ask “how can we slow down the passengers?” And instead of asking “how can we reduce wait time?” we can ask “how can we improve wait time?”
At Prevue’s Summit, Shapiro shared his cheat sheet on the 25 different lenses to innovative solutions detailed in his book. “Don’t think outside the box,” he said. “Find a better box.”
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