Imagine a peace summit called to resolve some ancient conflict. The delegates are people with deep, personal experience of the issues and an encyclopaedic understanding of the what, why and how of the problem.

Ultimately, the summit will achieve bugger all beyond a press release and a few non-binding resolutions, because the folks who know how we got into the problem don’t always know how we’re going to get out of it.

KNOWLEDGE on its own, isn’t enough. It’s just one of four keys that problem solvers need to unlock any problem.

The second key is DISTANCE from the problem. It’s what gives you much needed objectivity and clarity, a little room to stand back and get a good look at what you’re dealing with, so get yourself some minds that are somehow removed from the problem.

TIME is the third key. Big problems need the kind of care and attention that almost no-one seems to have these days, so you have to somehow make the effort, which means making the time.

Of course, none of that’s much use without the final key: OPTIMISM, and plenty of it. Find people with the kind of industrial-strength optimism that believes there’s a great solution to be found, if we just look hard enough. Only a handful of optimists find the answers they’re looking for, but fortunately, that’s usually enough.

So now you know the four keys to any solution: Knowledge, Distance, Time and Optimism.

Want to open a problem up to solutions? First you have to find your keys.

Avatar photo

Written by Jason Clarke

Twitter LinkedIn

Celebrated author, adventurer, gold medal Olympian and popular TV chef; Jason is none of these things. He is, however, one of the most sought-after creative minds in the country. As founder of Minds at Work, he’s helped people ‘think again’ since the end of the last century, working with clients across Australia in virtually every industry and government sector on issues ranging from creativity and trouble shooting to culture change and leadership.