Rephrase A Problem Positively to Get Better Answers

The quick way to get better answers to your problem is to define it in a positive way.

We can learn good management lessons from watching Korean Serials.

In the serial, “福熙姐姐”, Fuxi was the CEO of a clothes factory. They have the problem of pilferage of buttons and other accessories. The management met to discuss how to solve the problem. Before I tell you their answer, what is the thing that you would do?

Typical answer is to have inspection of employees before they leave the factory. That was their initial suggestion. But they were concern about the implications. (This is teaching us to consider the emotional and social impact of our decisions). So they went home to think about it.

The came back with the answer:

“It is better to teach our employees to love our company than to tell them not to steal from the company”.

This is the teaching of Appreciative Inquiry, and one of the very important thing that I teach in my management and innovation classes.  Applying the “Invert” operator is a good practice to generate ideas. (see BVITS Innovative Thinking Method)

Always rephrase a problem stated in a negative way into that one that is positive.

So, change from “how to reduce employees turnover” into “how to increase employees love for the company”.

Rephrase the problem into a positive challenge open up the mind for more and better solutions than thinking in negative terms. One is to increase and we think of opportunities and the other is to stop and hence we think only of barriers.

I am very surprised to find it in a Korean Serial, but may be not. Many good Korean serials like Da Zhang Jing, Shan De Nu Wang etc have management principles in them.

Teaching life and management principles through movie and TV serials are very effective. They are the non-invasive and effortless way of learning. This leads to the 2nd principle of always communicate with a story to illustrate your point. Story touches the heart and not just the mind.

In summary, we learn three things:

  1. Rephrase the problem in positive terms to open your mind to get better answers.
  2. Use story to illustrate our ideas to touch the mind and heart of our audience.
  3. Always consider the emotional and social impact of our decisions.

One more thing, will you still implement an inspection system to catch the culprit? See Integrated View of the Wisdom of Chinese Classics.  Please shaer with me what you think.

Lim Liat (C) 9 March 2012

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