There is an easy way to immediately start finding better solutions to problems and coming up with more good ideas. It involves breaking a habit of laziness that most of us have acquired through the years.

At school we learned that all questions have a right answer and a number of wrong answers. When we find the right answer we are done and can move on to the next task. What most of us did not learn was that this is rarely sufficient outside of academia.

Whenever we have a question, a problem or a challenge, the first solution we come up with is rarely the best. Yet, when we have one half-decent solution to the problem at hand we tend to stop thinking and move on to the next task.

The really great solutions are at the back of the line. They are not the ones that come up first. They are the ones that pop up in the shower a week later once it’s too late to implement them. They are the ones we mention in the project retrospective as the way we really should have gone with the project. They are the ones our competitor used and we wish we had thought of first.

Finding them is easy. Next time you need to solve a problem, set out to come up with multiple solutions. Grab a piece of paper and write down every solution you can possibly think of, even the silly ones. Whenever you think of a solution that could possibly work, write it down and ask yourself “OK, what else could work?“.

Always ask “What else would work?”. It will change everything.