“Your brain can sabotage the ability to come up with new ideas”


New Delhi, February 4 (IANS): The brain looks for ways to simplify the way information is processed and tends to take shortcuts that inhibit the ability to generate new solutions. We are therefore “stuck with ideas of the past” that prevent us from stepping back and considering alternatives – and must avoid falling into this “cognitive trap”, writes Debashis Sarkar, one of Asia’s leading improvement experts. organizational, in a new book. to make companies customer-centric and operationally excellent.

Our brain looks for ways to simplify the way we process information. It uses shortcuts and saves mental energy for more difficult tasks. Therefore, it takes shortcuts and referring to past solutions to fix a problem. Familiar thoughts inhibit our ability to generate new solutions,” writes Sarker, managing partner at Proliferator Advisory & Consulting, in “Little BIG Things in Operational Excellence” (SAGE).

“Our brain sabotages our ability to come up with new ideas. Therefore, you need to look for ways to break the pattern,” Sarkar writes.

For example, if problem “A” has been solved in a specific way in the past, when problem “B” occurs, which is similar to problem “A”, our brain tells us to take the same approach as previously adopted.

“Obviously, our past knowledge prevents us from looking for alternatives,” Sarker writes, adding, “This is what happens to experts who stick firmly to what they know and have done in the past. rigidity blinds them to interesting possibilities. What happens is that we tend to use similar thought patterns and past experiences to solve a problem even if it is irrelevant. We are stuck with ideas from the past that prevent us from taking a step back and considering alternatives.

So, how to stop this phenomenon?

Sarkar suggests a six-point approach:

When entrusted with a problem solving task, don’t engage in brainstorming solutions; instead, pause and reflect. Understand whether the problem statement reflects the problem or must be taken to represent reality.

Conduct regular research to find out how problems are being solved across industries, disciplines, and functions. A small team may be given this responsibility. They hold regular sessions to share what they have discovered new in their research.

Set up a team with a mandate to find solutions outside their organization. When other employees see how innovative approaches are used to solve problems, there is always a contact effect.

Sometimes stare mindlessly into the open space without looking or thinking about anything either; gazing at the clouds, gazing into the garden, and mindlessly gazing at the leaves – what the Japanese call boketto. It’s healthy, it lowers our heart rate and clears our mind – and also increases our creativity in problem solving.

Avoid solving a problem when you are tired.

Take regular breaks. During this time, do something else or just let your brain rest. Go for a walk, swim, run on a treadmill, ride a bike, flip through an art book, etc. When you pause, your thinking is unconsciously re-energized.

This is just one of the small chapters in the book that explain the concepts of the 7 Ps of Operational Excellence, the 10 Laws of Work Process, the Power of First Wins, the Power of Conflict, the Laws of Customers and other compelling practices. It also includes real business events like McDonald’s Kolkata Food Safety Issue, Bedsheet scandal, Punto Fiasco, etc.

In summary, the book integrates insights from the author’s experience spanning over three decades, industry trends, and leading academics to shed light on the concepts of process, customers, data, automation, change management, culture and behavioral science.


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