When I think about a problem, I automatically jump into solution mode. Don’t we all :)? However, this may be the wrong way to go about looking at business problems — in fact, we may not even be looking at the right problem. This is why AREA42 dedicated a TradeTech Tuesday session for entrepreneurs to investigate their trade problems in the real economy.
In collaboration with the Entrepreneurial Business Book Club (EBBC) we tackled Thomas Wedell-WedellsBorg’s (I challenge you to pronounce his surname out loud :)) critically-acclaimed leadership book that teaches business leaders how to solve better problems. Head of AREA42, Lode Vermeersch started the session off with how Credendo solved their innovation problem. Credit Insurance Group Credendo has come up with only 6 products in its 100-year existence. In order to create a world where trade is fast, simple, and safe they realized that they needed to come up with a new way of working and thinking — which needed to come from outside of Credendo. So AREA42 was born by reframing the problem of innovation within Credendo. AREA42 has none of the restrictions that plagued Credendo as far as disruptive innovation and could be leaner and create a culture of innovation and imagination. They did this by only bringing over the bare minimum from Credendo. By creating AREA42, Credendo came up with a new problem statement, that allowed for better out-of-the-box thinking and the speed and momentum to come up with solutions. This is where the tactics in “What’s Your Problem?” really began to resonate with the participants.
“It was like having a coach for free”
Using the adage, “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” as a jumping-off point, the participants were challenged to rethink their problem using the five steps outlined in Wedell-WedellsBorg’s book. Look outside the Frame: Always challenge the solutions you come up with and look for hidden influences. There may be an unknown factor or blind spot that is complicating your view of the problem. Challenge the Goal: We truly don’t do this enough. Sometimes what you think is the goal, really isn’t the goal. Examine the Bright Spots: Where is the problem not happening? You can get a lot of insight by focusing on what your problem doesn’t affect. Look in the Mirror, you are at the center of every problem: Always look for your personal piece in this obstacle. Take the perspective of others: Look at the problem through the lens of your coworkers, your customers, even the competition. Have empathy and try not to make assumptions. Most of all, don’t make your decisions without input from others. The highlight for all participants was the break-out sessions. In our small groups, we listened to each other, not to solve the problem, but to understand the problem. Admittedly, it was difficult not to jump into solution mode. It was interesting when we rejoined the larger group how energized everyone was because they were able to identify what their problem truly is and felt truly listened to by their fellow professionals. To quote one of the participants: “It was like having a coach for free” :).
AREA42 provides all sorts of opportunities for TradeTech Entrepreneurs to learn from each other in networking events and (digital) meetups. We want to inspire and accelerate TradeTech entrepreneurs so they can continuously solve real trade problems driven by TradeTech, creating a world where trade is fast, safe and simple. Follow AREA42, so you don’t miss out on the next event!