There is a psychology test developed by Karl Duncker in the 1940s called the Candle Problem where a test subject is at a table with a box of tacks, a candle and a book of matches and told to fix the candle to the wall so that wax won’t drip on the table. The solution is to take the tacks out of the box and affix the candle to the box and the box to the wall using the tacks. This solution requires creative thinking because literal thinking will not allow for an alternative use for the box holding the tacks.
When the test is conducted with all the same items, but the box and tacks are laid out separately, the correct solution is deduced more quickly by most test subjects because the preconceived use for the box is not established.
Yes, you say but what does this have to do with my work day? Plenty if you work with any level of complexity because problem solving in a complex environment requires the worker to engage in conceptualization. The best solution is not always readily apparent with the information at hand.
Ok, that provides an overview of the second half of today’s title, so let’s backtrack to the first half: CANDLE, which is an acronym that I developed, standing for:
- Active Listening
- Decision Making
- Lead the way
The business model where I spent my corporate time was a complex one and newer people were at a bit of a disadvantage because the learning curve was pretty steep and the consequences for making a bad decision could be harsh. So I developed my acronym to help the people on my team to focus. These were their main skills, or tools in their mental tool box. If you can name the tool that you need, then you have started to put some familiar context to a potentially unfamiliar situation.
Context and identification of familiar parts get your brain headed in the right direction for a solution. Who knew candles were still so useful?
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations