I’ve been posting a few articles around whether we make “both/and” or “either/or” decisions. Part of my reason for this is to help us think about how we make decisions which consider all possibilities. This is an example of using a provocation to challenge assumptions.
We make decisions based on a set of assumptions. When an assumption is challenged, it forces us to think differently.
Here’s a famous example:
“Imagine you had to design a car that had square wheels. What would you do?”
Now when I talked about “both/and” I was talking about something that is potentially realistic. There are situations (not always) where you can have “both and.” However, in the “square wheel” scenario, you aren’t actually going to design that car. However, it gets you to think about how you would work on other parts of the design to compensate for the weakness there. Why not have a go at the exercise?
You see the aim is to draw you away from one aspect of the problem to look at other aspects. If you visit the Air museum at RAF Cosford, there is a brilliant physical example of this in one hanger where there are lots of examples of experimental designs intended to push aerodynamics to the limits.
Have a look at the particular problem you are facing now. What are the assumptions behind it? How can you challenge them?