About that quote: "Ask What Needs to be Done"

Every mentor at Startup Weekend Stockholm is invited to provide a quote for the Instagram event campaign. For the February 2018 Foodtech event I chose a thought that I had just tweeted when I was asked -- an idea that I have found very useful for solving difficult problems.

Never ask if something can be done; ask instead what needs to be done to make it happen. This apparently simple change of perspective is surprisingly effective because it reframes the question from one about possibility to actually finding solutions. When you ask yourself or other people if something is possible you allow the possibility that it is not. By asking how it could be done you concentrate all your efforts on finding some sort of solution.

Once you have taken away the option of simply walking away from the problem people tend to get much more creative in finding solutions. Perhaps you have to redefine the problem, or perhaps you need to adapt your expectations. But when there is no option to just walk away you have to work the problem.

I have found this very useful in workshops where people learn how to discover and capture innovative new ideas. In brainstorming activities sometimes participants are challenged to come up with a new solution to a difficult problem and the first instinct is to say that it can't be done. You can get past this roadblock just by asking the question in the right way. You don't ask "Is this possible?" or "Can it be done?" You ask "What steps do we need to take to make this idea happen?"

During an innovation workshop I once challenged a group of participants to come up with some ideas to redesign their most popular product so that it would cost ten times less. The first reaction is always that it would be impossible but by focusing on the "what do we have to do?" question the group was able to come up with a plausible proposal.

You can use this approach to create innovative new products and services but it is actually much more useful. You can also use it in leadership to address complex issues that seem very challenging at first but are solvable once you focus on the solutions.


Lectures Workshops, Coaching & Writing

If you would like a lecture, interactive workshop, one-to-one coaching or writing about creating and selling innovative ideas contact Andrew Hennigan at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or 0046 73 089 44 75.


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