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Best Problem-Solving Tip: Don’t Be Afraid to Break Stuff

| February 14, 2012

by Jim Bruce

A few weeks ago, Erik Lundberg, an ITLP alum from the University of Washington, shared with me a short piece from Inc. – “Don’t Be Afraid to Break Stuff” – which is today’s Tuesday Reading.  Chris Mittelstaedt, Founder and CEO of the FruitGuys, a company delivering farm-fresh fruit and vegetables to the American workplace, homes, and schools, is the author.

Mittelstaedt notes that we often encounter problems that are too thorny and overwhelming to solve in the usual ways.  Solving them requires that you think differently.  But, too often you get stuck!

In a wonderful story in today’s reading, Mittelstaedt’s father uses a sledgehammer to change the problem from one that was intractable to one that was not only solvable but one that addressed the underlying immediate problem.  “If you want to salvage something out of a bad situation, you’ve got to realistic.  Readjust your thinking to the situation.  And, don’t be afraid to break stuff if you have to – especially if it is already broken.”

The learning here is that you must be able to see the right problem and solve it.  This often means that you have to accept some hard truths and let go some tightly held assumptions.

So, when confronted with that really hard problem, take out your sledgehammer and knock out the kinks until you find the right starting point.

I suspect that I may need to use this approach now.  And you may also.


Have a great week.  .  .  .    jim