3 tricks for solving problems faster and better

Photo by Ray Hennessy on UnsplashCreative people ‘borrow’ ideas from one field of interest and apply them in another to solve problems.

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If we stick with ‘what we know’ và are familiar with we can be blind khổng lồ new ways of ‘seeing’.

Whether it’s the person you’ve been with for decades.The job you’re tiring of.The life you’re frustrated with.Or the confounding technical problem you’re charged with solving.

In the world of business, economics, science or art — the act of seeing from an ‘oblique’ perspective is a commodity highly sought.

Why? Because it’s a rare skill.

Divergent thinkers are adaptive thinkers.

Innovative by nature.

Creative solution-makers by design.

Yet most schools educate children into a focused convergent mindset. This becomes reinforced in college with exams testing specific knowledge. And is entrenched in the workforce as ‘follow-the-system’ processes that dumb và numb the mind.

So how can one ‘see’ with eyes that are trained to lớn blinker distractions, lượt thích a race horse intent on the finish line?

… Taught lớn focus on problem?

… Teased by the volume of information begging to lớn be understood, yet narrowed by tunnel vision?

There is an answer: Nature.

The original source of creative insight.

The world around us waiting to be seen.

A natural resource for those willing khổng lồ see ideas and cross-fertilise man-made problems with nature’s evolutionary solutions.

Scientists gọi this biomimicry. And it’s changed the way problems are solved in engineering & science.

“Biomimicry is an approach khổng lồ innovation that seeks sustainable solutions lớn human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns & strategies.”

Nature’s ideas are turning up in unusual places as the quest for elegant design and answers to lớn society’s ever-pressing need for speed, innovation and environmental protection escalates.

The natural world offers a hothouse of ready-made solutions, all we need vị is distill them.

For me, nature offers the ultimate metaphor-maker. Pointing the proverbial olive-branch khổng lồ answer life’s mysteries.

It offers organic solutions to what we grapple with in our navel-gazing world view.

If we pause, seek và observe, nature helps us connect the dots.

But only if we dismiss the ‘quick glance’ và deepen observations to see possibilities.

Let’s Look At Nature’s Natural Innovators

“You could look at nature as being like a catalog of products, and all of those have benefited from a 3.8 billion year research and development period. And given that level of investment, it makes sense khổng lồ use it.” Michael Pawlyn, British Architect. Tác giả of: Biomimicry in Architecture

Here’s An Example:

Designers working on the Japanese 500-Series Shinkansen bullet train (which began operation in 1998 and is now superseded) looked khổng lồ nature to lớn solve the problem of machinery moving at high speed without the accompanying noise factor.

Residents 400 metres away could hear the sonic bangs made by earlier models entering underground tunnels.

Eiji Nakatsu, engineer và former director of the company who created the railway system, is also a bird lover.

During the thiết kế stage of the bullet train, he attended a lecture on birds.

It got him thinking about the noise problem from a different perspective.

This ‘creative pause’ shifted his perspective và he sought inspiration through nature’s ‘stealth machine’: the owl.

The team discovered that an owl’s feathers have rows of saw-toothed (serration) feathers protruding from the outer layer. These enable near-silent flight by altering air turbulence và absorbing noise.

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Nakatsu applied this thiết kế feature khổng lồ the bullet train’s overhead serrations. Today the concept is found in aircraft design and ski gear.

The kingfisher influenced the train’s cone-like nose.

When searching for prey, the kingfisher skims the water before diving lớn snare a fish with its elongated beak.

It moves quietly and with ease between low pressure (air) and high pressure (water) — a similar problem faced by the bullet train as air pressure changes on entering a tunnel which created sonic-level noise. Nature’s kiến thiết created an elegant solution.

The owl và the kingfisher — a perfect pairing for sleek speed và hushed performance.

When you look at solving problems & frustrations in your life, what (or whom) vày you turn to lớn for inspiration?

The past? Friends? Self-help books?

While we stay locked in our own blinkered view, problems can feel insurmountable.

And we can be our own worst enemy. Literally digging ourselves into a ditch by walking round and round the problem until it’s impossible khổng lồ see beyond the hole dug.

While you may not be designing the next bullet train — you may be solving a very noisy problem that’s threatening to run you over.

Noise and speed can be problems whether designing the bullet train or experiencing everyday problems.

Here’s How to lớn Assimilate The Owl and The Kingfisher Into Your Problem-Solving Process

Consider the problem và state each element simply.

Nakatsu’s problems were: increase speed and decrease sound.

Apply the law of association. Look at your interests or elements of the natural world that you’re curious about.

What is something in nature that has already solved this problem in order khổng lồ survive predators?

STEP ONE: mở cửa curiosity

Research. Read widely. Ask questions. See the familiar as if unfamiliar.

STEP TWO: Apply divergent thinking by expanding what could be possible

Observe. Create. Record. Draw diagrams. Maps your ideas using words, symbols và images.

STEP THREE: Use convergent thinking by refining ideas & looking for patterns

Synthesise. Group ideas. Create labels. Remove information. địa chỉ in other pieces. Build links.


Walk away from the problem. Give your mind a break.

Enjoy one of your passions.

Listen lớn a talk on it. Read a book about it. Watch a movie about it.


The creative pause is where magic happens.

But only with …

A Fertile Mind

How fertile is your mind?

Or, is it a barren, vacuous state where ideas flitter in and out, yet never take root?

I’m not a scientist. Nor an engineer.

I doubt I’ll design the next train that will travel at ever-increasing speeds as newer models become available.

But I know a mind’s fertility matures with good nutrition.

Protein-rich food.

Protein-rich books

Protein-rich experiences.

And the openness to explore links that at first appear unrelated.

This is about looking for patterns. Being an observer of life.

Someone who is:

Swift khổng lồ swoop on opportunities.Silent as deep thinking and patterns emerge.Smart in capturing connections và making sense of them.