Welcome. We are promoting the fundamentals of forward thinking based on a purpose-directed approach that could change the course of your life. It has changed the way many people think about problems and opportunities and has led to real breakthroughs.
The key lies in seven powerful principles. These are the principles of ‘Breakthrough Thinking’ developed and refined over four decades by Professor Gerald Nadler of UCLA in Los Angeles and Professor Shozo Hibino of Chukyo University Aichi in Japan, and many others across all business sectors who apply these principles in their work. They are based on a powerful combination of what is best in Western and Eastern approaches to creativity and innovation.
The seven principles are summarized below. If you wish to go beyond the basics and learn more, have a look at our recommended reading list. If you have limited time for reading, you may find it worth purchasing a copy of SPIRIT Managed Thinking.
If you do nothing more than read and adopt the principles outlined on this page, you will have greatly improved your chances of identifying and designing breakthrough solutions.
The Uniqueness Principle
Every situation is unique. It may seem otherwise, but it would be a mistake to assume that something that worked for someone else will work for you in exactly the same way.
The people, the location, the timing and the circumstances of your situation make it unique. If you take the time to identify and understand the uniqueness of your situation, your forward thinking is more likely to uncover a breakthrough.
The Purposes Principle
You have a choice. You can decide what your purpose is when you set out to solve a problem or address an opportunity. The level of the purpose you select will determine the scope, the limits and the focus of your efforts. This, in turn, will determine the scale of the results that you can achieve.
Unfortunately, the default for most people is “get things back the way they were before the problem arose.” If you’re going to spend time on changing a situation, you are most likely selling yourself short if you don’t adopt some new thinking and start looking at the different ways you can get the most value for the time spent.
Once you have decided that change is necessary and your purpose is clear, the reasons for first developing a “solution after next” or an ideal future solution based on forward thinking are compelling:
• The focus is on “how it might be done” rather than “why it can’t be done”.
• Your creativity and the creativity of all involved are liberated from current or short term priorities and concerns as well as perceived or self-imposed limits.
• It provides a reference frame in which to evaluate alternative solutions.
• It provides a context for a progressive initial solution for the problem with a built-in development path towards an ideal solution in the future.
The Systems Principle
If you are fleshing out an alternative solution, you need some way to make sure that all the bases are covered. This requirement becomes even more intense when it comes to specifying an initial solution for implementation and migration towards the ideal future solution. It requires new thinking on testing of assumptions.
Bearing in mind that seven eights of an iceberg can’t be seen above water, the Systems Principle sees any problem as a system – a group of elements interacting with each other for some purpose, which also interacts with other systems. This principle forms the basis of a forward thinking model, the System Matrix that provides a clear framework of what elements and dimensions comprise a given solution and helps ensure its workability and successful implementation (FYI: see the note below for a little more detailed description of the System Matrix).
This is another forward thinking principle that makes sense when you think about it. How many times have you heard people react to a problem situation especially some sort of threat with the words “I want to know all there is to know about” that person, that company, that situation. We have a tendency to dive into action when a problem occurs – probably inherited from our stone age ancestors who had to immediately strike out when threatened by some creature of some hungry invader.
We don’t have the same issues today, but many people seem to think that immediately running out to collect and analyse as much information as possible will somehow expedite a solution. They think that information is action. This is a big mistake and calls for new thinking. If you want to avoid analysis paralysis and if you want to save time and money and arrive a better solution sooner, take heed of the Limited Information Collection principle:
No time should be spend on collecting, measuring, reading, analysing, setting up investigations, commissioning surveys or reports . . . unless there is a clear purpose for doing so in the context of the overall process and its purpose.
The objective is to become an expert on the solution – not on the problem, to spend time on strategy, solutions and forward thinking – not problem analysis and history.
The People Principle
The People Principle is closely related to the Limited Information principle and the tendency to confuse information and analysis with action. Valuable time that could be spent on strategy and developing solutions is often wasted on excessive data collection and analysis. In many cases when the information analysis lacks a specific purpose, the default purpose becomes uncovering “Who is to blame?” for any adverse findings.
There are many advantages to involving all the stakeholders whenever change is required in a given situation where forward thinking is required. These are just some of them.
• People are the source of ideas and creativity and the breakthrough idea can, and often does, come from the least expected source.
• People respond positively to a clear purpose and clearly agreed measures of purpose accomplishment.
• People who are involved, or at least have been consulted, in designing changes to a situation will be less inclined to resist those changes and more likely to embrace them.
You are much more likely to uncover a breakthrough if you avoid the blame game, avoid assumptions about what individuals may or may not be able to contribute and apply the People Principle which calls for all stakeholders to be involved in designing solutions, especially those who will be involved in implementing those solutions. There is a world of a difference between a given group of forward thinking people working together with a common purpose and that same group trying to blame each other for the past, being defensive or feeling snubbed.
The Betterment Timeline Principle
This principle is the icing on the cake. It epitomises a forward thinking and a dynamic solution. If you have followed the other principles in your search for a breakthrough and you have first developed an ideal future solution that you have selected as best for your purpose, then you can simultaneously launch you initial solution and your “betterment timeline” – your strategic plan to realise your ideal future solution.
“Betterment” is a great word (chosen by Nadler and Hibino or course) to capture, not just the ideas of continuous improvement and reaping the advantages of the experience curve, but also the idea of ensuring that both your purpose and ideal future solution are reviewed and assessed to ensure that your ideal future solution is the best ideal future solution.
Note: The System Matrix is a very powerful strategy evaluation and planning tool.
Bearing in mind that seven eights of an iceberg can’t be seen above water, the systems principle points out that any problem situation can be characterised as a system – a group of elements interacting with each other for some purpose.
These elements can include inputs or raw material, a process or some sequence by which the inputs are transformed in the production of another element – outputs.
Another key element is the environment – could be any combination of the legal, regulatory, economic, social, geographic, political or other environments depending on the situation.
Other elements that are relevant in most situations include people skills and expertise, human aids; policies and procedures or data collection and reporting – information aids; and physical assets such as buildings, equipment and machinery, computers, vehicles or materials handling gear – physical catalysts.
Last, but by no means least, is the purpose element – the raison d’être for the system.
Further study of Breakthrough Thinking™’s Systems Principle will reveal the System Matrix – a clear framework of elements and dimensions that comprise any solution and helps ensure the solution’s feasibility and successful implementation.
The eight elements have been noted above. At a basic level, the six dimensions are fundamental – what the system does; values – why it does it; measures – what are the specific performance goals and standards for the system; control – how and how regularly performance will be measured, assessed and any necessary corrective action initiated and verified; interface – no system exists in isolation – how the system interrelates, interacts, coordinates with other systems and future – monitoring the uncontrollables, implementing and reviewing the plan towards the ideal future solution, reviewing the purpose and developing new ideal future solutions as part of a dynamic system.
Want to learn more?
If you would like to know more about applying these principles to solving problems and capitalizing on opportunities, if you need to come up to speed fast, and if you can afford to invest €10 and 90 minutes of your time, buy the SPIRIT Managed Thinking e-Book now!
If you would like to discuss the possibility of your organization adopting these principles or if you have a major challenge where you think we could be of help, talk to us. We’d love to hear from you.