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Action Insights

We comb the news, business periodicals and recent books looking for relevant topics to help you overcome obstacles.  We condense the information into a few key points and provide details on how to learn more.  See examples of past Insights below:

Category Subject
Creative Problem Solving

Your Wonderbag of Creative Tricks

Sometimes a product comes along that reminds us that creative solutions are just a focused moment away.  By applying your past experiences in a new way, you can solve some of your most perplexing problems.  Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Shrimp and Grits

Creativity is easily achieved with a change in our view point.  Too often we focus on problems with a “how to” perspective instead of a “how else” perspective. A few simple changes can unlock creativity in your company.  Read more

Decision Making

What’s It Take To Be A Navy SEAL?

Some criteria used to select a Navy SEAL candidate are predictable but there are also some surprising criteria.  Because decisions are driven by the criteria we select it is essential to identify the best criteria for success.  Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Do You Need A “Do Over”?

Studies reveal that creative fluency climbs in children until third grade, and then it levels off and steadily declines during our lifetime.  Most companies are seeking ways to be more creative yet our own creativity is decreasing. Read More

Anticipating Problems

Melon Mistakes

One shopping experience reveals plenty about the need for Anticipating Problems whether on vacation or in responding to the never ending changes in customer tastes, economic realities and technological improvement.  Read More

Cause Analysis

Toilet Troubles

Solving problems can be as easy as performing a Distinction Analysis.  Whether it’s home toilets, or production processes, asking a few key questions and testing your ideas can lead to marital bliss and smooth operations.  Read more

Teamwork

The Multitasking Fallacy

People mistakenly believe that great efficiency can be accomplished in meetings when we multitask by checking email and responding to texts during the course of a meeting.  Studies demonstrate that the opposite is true.  Read more

Teamwork

Horrors of Conference Calls

With communication technologies, global teams and the desire for companies to cut office expenses, more of us conduct work from home than ever before.  The benefits are numerous, but all of the advantages are not without risk. Read More

Anticipating Problems

Riding Failure to the Ground

Don’t embrace a cultural norm that has outlasted its usefulness and benefit to the organization.  Instead, take proactive steps to anticipate problems and identify practical solutions that don’t disrupt the organization’s culture.  Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Your Coffee Cup Moment

Very creative solutions don’t need to be complex.  They can come from the simplest and most common items.  But to illicit these creative ideas, you need to be disciplined as in the way that you approach the problem solving opportunity.  Read More

Decision Making

Say Goodbye to China

Like unused china at home, our organizations carry around old systems, outdated processes and irrelevant cultural norms. To focus on the right thing we need to constantly make decisions to de-clutter our organization. Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Trash and Instruments of Creativity

Odds are good that you are looking to transform your organization in some way.  What can an engineer and a trash collector teach us about creativity? Plenty! Read More

Teamwork

Car Tails and Other Distractions

We have our own agendas, we’re trying new things, and we miss the bigger purpose. In our organizations, this is most easily seen in our ineffective meetings. One of the greatest resource hogs in modern business…Read More

Other

Are You A Toothpick Hunter?

Are you pursuing the right issues?  Are your people accomplishing the right things?  Or are they just hunting toothpicks?  This intriguing story was shared by our Associate and frequent contributor…Read More

Cause Analysis

Sleepless in Des Moines

What do prescription sleep aids have in common with our own problem solving efforts?  Quite a lot, actually.  When you lose sight of why you need to solve the problem then you may end up solving the wrong problem altogether.  Read More

Teamwork

Turkey Tales

Disastrous projects like disastrous Thanksgivings provide ample opportunities for negativity and blame.  Don’t allow this to happen on your team (or your family).  Find out practical ways to make the most of failures.  Read More

Cause Analysis

Running Scared?

If you follow sports, you probably heard that a Kenyan won the New York City Marathon recently.  In fact, Kenyans grabbed three of the top five spots and continued their dominance in distance races.  How does it relate to your business.  Read More

Anticipating Problems

Preventing the Nightmare

We tend to reward those “super heroes” that put out the biggest organizational fires.  Where were they when the fire could have been averted?  There are steps we can take to reduce the likelihood of problems and reduce the need for heroes…Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Creativity and the Get-Along Shirt

See what one man’s creative solution for encouraging cooperation among his children teaches us about solving our most challenging business problems.  Do you think your department could use its own Get-Along Shirt?  Read More

Decision Making

A Freshness Failure

When making decision we tend to attribute greater weight or importance to recent events than those that happened longer ago.  Known as the “recency bias”, it causes us to fail to question appropriately.  Read More

Teamwork

Peace of Mind

We implement changes without thinking whether people will automatically see benefits of the change.  This lack of understanding blinds us to real feelings that must be worked through to make the change process a success…Read More

Cause Analysis

Cure for the Queasies

The CDC is an expert at determining the root cause of outbreaks from contaminated food products.  Rather than put up with Band-Aid fixes, isolate the cause by applying the same processes employed by the CDC…Read More

Decision Making

Don’t Suffer Through Another Crappy Movie

The acting was horrific, characters were awful, story line was completely implausible. So, we did what normal, rational people do.  We sat through another two hours of misery.  We fell into the “sunk cost” trap…Read More

Teamwork

Blame-Storms on the Horizon

The medical drama series “Monday Mornings” revolved around  Monday morning peer reviews of patient care and was cancelled after one season.  The show was too much like our own dreaded “After Action Review” meetings…Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Drop the Anchor and Innovate

You might not think that questions about the population of Turkey would reveal a troubling aspect of innovation.  But researchers demonstrate the phenomenon of “anchoring” and how this can impede our efforts… Read More

Decision Making

The “F” Word

There’s at least one “F” word that is often off-limits in business – “Feelings”. But feelings are a vital and essential part of decision making.  Research suggests that we’re unable to make decisions without feelings…Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Give It A Rest!

Research shows that best ideas come when we step away from the problem and “let it rest”.  Referred to as incubation, our brains process the problem when our consciousness has moved on to the next thing. Here are three tips…Read More

Anticipating Problems

The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Leaders often approach problems with what I call a “bias for action.”  Rather than spend time analyzing the issue to find the true root cause, we hastily arrive at a solution.  Then we implement a fix based on assumptions or…Read More

Cause Analysis

The Power of Negative Thinking

A common life experience reveals how we frequently solve problems, and it’s incredibly ineffective.  We often implement solutions because they worked the last time, ignoring new data and contradictory evidence…Read More

Cause Analysis

Problem Solving with the Windows Down

Enjoying the springtime ritual of driving with your windows down, consider how good problem solving starts in much the same way.  Don’t neglect the human element of problem solving and “keeping the windows down.”…Read More

Anticipating Problems

Uncommon Sense

In an effort to improve patient care and reduce harmful errors, the maximum shift length for medical interns was reduced from 30 hours to 16.  It seems like common sense.  However, studies showed the change did more harm than good… Read More

Cause Analysis

Don’t Ask the Wrong Question

Robert Nardelli was hired to run Home Depot.  He nearly doubled sales, cut costs,  increased efficiency and doubled profits.  Then, the board of directors released Nardelli.  Why?  He focused on the wrong question…Read More

Teamwork

Building Your Crisis Management Culture

How does your team respond to a crisis?  It’s important to recognize that managing people and processes in a crisis is basically the same as managing them under normal circumstances.  However, a crisis situation…Read More

Teamwork

Death by Meeting

The title of Patrick Lencioni’s book sums up how many people feel about meetings. People accept wasteful meetings as the reality of business today.  However, just a few simple questions can dramatically improve…Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Curing What Ails You

You know the feeling of helplessness when your child is sick.  You just want them to feel better.  Now, imagine a doctor came to you and proposed a cure that involved injecting your child with HIV!…Read More

Cause Analysis

Collect Information, Not Data

You can’t solve a problem without good quality information. If you recall the reports of unintended acceleration that Toyota experienced a few years ago, their best source of information was from a terrified driver…Read More

Planning

Risky Business

Terry Huckaby was an eyewitness to chaos this past weekend, seated eleven rows from the front stretch fence at Daytona Motor Speedway.  From his seat, he watched as Kyle Larson’s car went airborne…Read More

Planning

That ONE Thing

What is the one thing that, if it happened in this year, would make you feel like the year was very successful?  Whether you get there can be boiled down to just three principals…Read More

Teamwork

HR and Children of the Cobbler

The phrase “the cobbler’s children have no shoes”  speaks to the irony of how certain professions focus on other’s needs and ignore those situations closest to them. Are you giving attention to your future development?…Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Inexpensive Innovation

We all know it’s important to defer judgment when generating new ideas (i.e. brainstorming) however, many people ignore the benefit derived from focusing their idea generation into smaller categories.  By narrowing your focus…Read More

Teamwork

Measuring the Impact of Training

According to research, CEO’s want to see how their training organizations are helping drive the top business measures and the resulting return on investment but 90% of training organization are not providing this information. Don’t let…Read More

Decision Making

Caught in a Zombie / Decision Trap

My teenage son loves to play a popular video game where he can create hidden traps to catch friends and unsuspecting zombies!  These traps are  camouflaged as the traps we encounter every time we make a decision….Read More

Decision Making

Decisions Make the Difference

Success in business, and in life, is predicated on the quality of decisions you make.  While most people will still occasionally make bad decisions, there are things you can do to improve your decision making skills…Read More

Planning

Interesting Research – The Power of Questions for Achieving Goals

I’ve long been enamored with the power of questions.  However, until recently, I never realized how powerful questions could be in goal attainment.  According to research conducted by University of Illinois professor…Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Does Brainstorming Work?

People engage in unproductive activities called “brainstorming” that sometimes gives brainstorming a bad name, and when failing to put the work into getting the right people in the rooms and asking the right questions is like…Read More

Teamwork

Critical Thinking & Politics Don’t Mix

There’s a reason people say that we should never discuss politics and religion in mixed company.  People are more inclined to react to a situation in “fight or flight” mode than to employ critical thinking.  How can you avoid this trap?  Read more

Cause Analysis

Critical Thinking Training Opposed?

The Republican Party of Texas in its 2012 platform included a statement they opposed the teaching of critical thinking skills.  Ironically, the vast majority of the population will misunderstand because of a lack of critical thinking.  Read More

Teamwork

I Hate Meetings!

“I hate meetings!”  Have you ever said these words?  You are not alone. Studies show that 50% of meeting time is wasted-that’s $143 Million for the average Fortune 500 company!  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Read More

Cause Analysis

Root Cause Success-SpaceX

In a historic and successful rocket launch on May 22nd, few will recall that SpaceX had to abort the mission just a half-second before the scheduled launch on May 19th.  In a text-book example of effectively…Read more

Cause Analysis

Root Cause Failure – F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor is the most technologically advanced fighter jet ever conceived and has recently been plagued with a troubling oxygen delivery issue that results in hypoxia and has potentially lethal outcomes…Read More

Teamwork

Critical Thinking Training vs. Creativity Training

Some studies suggest critical thinking is essential while others suggest creativity is most important.  Which skills are most important to develop in our teams? The answer may surprise you.  Read More

Planning

Weak Processes Produce Weak Results

Weak processes commonly emerge from reorganizations and realignment when there is little time to critically evaluate why activities are being performed and everyone is trying to just get the work finished.  If your area has been restructured…Read More

Decision Making

Speed of Decision Making

Does decision making occur too slowly at your company?  Employee surveys at one oil & gas giant have ranked slow decisions as the #1 employee complaint for the last 5 years.  Do you know what drives slow decisions at your company?  Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Behind the Scenes at Pixar

When an organization produces one exceptional product after another, you need to take notice of what they are doing to foster such exceptional results.  With an unbroken string of blockbuster releases beginning in 1995…Read More

Cause Analysis

How Did It Get This Bad?

This Company is well known for their exemplary handling of tainted products in the 80′s but had 50-plus product recalls in a 15-month span ranging from antacids to hip replacements.Read More

Creative Problem Solving

It’s All in Your Head

Most people seem to think creativity is break-through ideas and really cool and, to some of us, quite foreign and unattainable abilities best left to graphics artists and marketing people.  In reality, creativity is something much more elegant…Read More

Anticipating Problems

How to Make Sure Your Innovative Solution Fails

No matter how good your solution, it will likely be regarded a failure if you don’t implement it well.  Research conducted by Professor Paul Nutt revealed that 50% of decisions are never fully implemented.  Our own research…Read More

Creative Problem Solving

Research shows that creativity really is declining

A really interesting story about the problem of falling creativity scores appeared in a recent issue of Newsweek magazine.  While intelligence scores are climbing, creativity scores are dropping….significantly!  Read More

Planning

What CEOs Want From Training

Do you know what CEOs are really looking for from their Training organization?  Research results revealed a surprising mismatch between what CEO’s want and what they’re getting.  Read More

Anticipating Problems

Stop Fighting Fires

Organizations of all types experience a condition commonly referred to as fire-fighting. There are observable symptoms of problematic fire-fighting than can substantially derail and organization – and profits.  Read More

Decision Making

Flip a coin to make your next decision?

Have you ever wondered why some decisions work out great and others don’t?  In fact, you may have noticed that it seems like a 50/50 proposition – a coin flip.  Truth is decisions really do fail about half the time! Read More

Planning

Stick to It – The Key to Achieving your Goals

What is the key to successfully achieving your strategy and goals for this year?  Just stick to it!  George Patton famously said that “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”  This sentiment is echoed… Read More

Creative Problem Solving

The overlooked element of creativity

Do you want to know the secret to creativity?  It’s focus.  Most people remember that it’s important to defer judgment and look for unique combinations but until you focus, creativity rarely happens.  Read More

Teamwork

Don’t just be a genius, be a genius maker!

Are you a genius or a genius maker?  Are you a Diminsher or a Multiplier?  According to research by the Wiseman Group, “Multipliers get twice the capability from their people than Diminishers do”.  If you are expected to do more with less… Read More

Anticipating Problems

Don’t let the (un)expected derail you

Executing your strategies and plans can easily be derailed by issues that are within your span of influence – even when you think they aren’t in your control.   For instance, we can’t control inclement weather however; we do control… Read More

Anticipating Problems

Learning from the mistakes of others

No one missed the tragedy that befell Deepwater Horizon and the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010.  However, the news of the spill overshadowed the tragic loss of life on the drilling platform and the many systems that could have prevented the loss of life.  Read More

Creative Problem Solving

6 Keys to an Innovative Organization

There are three ways to lose money: gambling, divorce and innovation!” Yet, in a recent survey conducted by IBM, CEO’s ranked creativity as the most crucial factor for business success.   How can you transform your organization without losing money?  Read More

   

 

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Creative Problem Solving | Problem Solving Training | Decision Making | Teaching Critical Thinking Skills | Critical Thinking