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Finding Alternative Solutions to Problems

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

In order to be adaptable, you need to have the ability to find alternative solutions to problems as they arise. To do this successfully, it’s important to:

  • Give yourself time to think objectively
  • Allow yourself the ‘headspace’ to think, re-assess, and adapt, and
  • Avoid allowing yourself to feel stressed or overwhelmed

Tactics for finding alternative solutions

There are tactics you can use to help you adapt to new environments and find alternative solutions to problems, such as practicing emotional intelligence, brainstorming, and mind-mapping.

Practice emotional intelligence

Adapting to a new situation or environment can be an emotional experience at first for many people. People often talk of fear, palpitations, and dismay at the thought of a big change; and although positive feelings may also be felt, such as joy and excitement, they can be equally powerful emotions. Having emotional intelligence means having the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. It is widely acknowledged that emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success. Numerous studies have shown that people with high emotional intelligence enjoy greater job performance and personal mental health, and possess strong leadership skills.

Emotional intelligence was recognized in 1964 by Michael Beldoch and gained popularity in 1995 with the science journalist Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence. According to Goleman, there are five main elements of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

If you can learn to recognize your own emotions and those of others, and recognize how emotions influence your actions, then you can discern between different feelings and label them appropriately. You can then use this emotional information to guide your thinking and adjust your emotions to adapt to a new environment or achieve a particular goal.

Use brainstorming

Brainstorming is the method of creating ideas to solve an issue, and so it is a perfect tool to help you to adapt to an arising situation. Brainstorming allows people to draw links between topics in a free-thinking environment, thereby broadening the adaptive-solution space.

There are some simple steps involved in brainstorming:

  1. Define the issue arising – be as specific as possible
  2. Select a facilitator from within the team
  3. Invite people to participate – adaptive thinkers are best
  4. Set a time limit – if it can’t be done in an hour, it can’t be done
  5. Make it clear that here are no silly ideas - everyone has a say
  6. Nothing proposed is criticized
  7. Use what other people say to trigger your own thought processes, and

The objective is ‘quantity over quality’ – so through drawing or writing, get everything down

Once you have finished brainstorming, be open-minded about other arising possibilities. Consider what you need to know more about, what can you eliminate, and if there are any barriers. Weigh up all of the possibilities and list potential alternatives. Try not to be influenced by your held beliefs. Select ideas that are adaptable, write them down, and implement them.

Use mind-mapping

Another effective method for gaining a clear overview and allowing you to adapt to a new situation is to use Tony Buzan’s ‘Mind-Mapping’ process. According to Buzan, “A mind map is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. It is a visual thinking tool that helps structuring information, helping you to better analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall and generate new ideas. Just as in every great idea, its power lies in its simplicity.”

In the context of gaining an overview and adapting to a complex situation, mind-mapping is an invaluable review tool. A typical mind map looks something like this:

Tony Buzan suggests the following ten steps to make the best use of the mind-map process:

  1. Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least three colors.
  2. Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
  3. Select key words and write them using upper- or lower-case letters.
  4. Each word or image works best alone, sitting on its own line.
  5. The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The lines become thinner as they radiate out from the center.
  6. Make the lines the same length as the word or image they support.
  7. Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also for encoding or grouping.
  8. Develop your own personal style of mind-mapping (for example, write your own codes).
  9. Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
  10. Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy or outlines to embrace your branches.

While there are numerous apps you can use for brainstorming and mind-mapping, pen and paper or whiteboard are often the best, as using them allows you to slow down your thinking and tap more effectively into your memories, and the information flow onto paper or whiteboard is smoother.

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Kevin J Reid

CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com

  • A consummate and skillful international communications trainer, facilitator, and coach
  • Has over 15 years of learning development experience with individuals, teams, and entire organizations
  • Has facilitated communications workshops and training across numerous sectors in Ireland, the UK, Europe, America, and Africa

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

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    Personal Skills
    Kevin J Reid
    Skills Expert

    When it comes to improving your personal skills in the workplace, four essential skills stand out: the ability to be more productive at work; the ability to adapt to a changing work environment; the ability to manage your time effectively; and the ability to deal with setbacks. This module focuses on enhancing your skills in these four critical areas.

    When it comes to productivity, you will learn about the difference between being busy and being productive, and techniques you can use to increase your output and to deal with unwelcome distractions and interruptions.

    The lesson on adaptability focuses on how to cultivate an adaptable mind-set at work, and how to find alternative – and innovative – solutions to problems by using tactics like brainstorming and mind-mapping.

    The time-management lesson explains how to prioritize tasks and set goals, how to save and create time, and how to eliminate personal time stealers such as excessively viewing email or attending too many meetings.

    The module concludes with a lesson on how to respond to setbacks in the workplace. You will discover the importance of demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity, and how to turn setbacks into valuable learning opportunities.