164552415“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in an way that will allow a solution.” Bertrand Russell

Problem solving in a group context can be troublesome – the saying that too many cooks spoil the broth can definitely apply. The ‘Einstein’ process is an effective way that turns the way most teams collectively solve problems on its head. The focus of an Einstein process session is less about the problem solving, and more about the problem itself. The framework is inspired by this Albert Einstein quote:

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

The objective is to to define the problem together, in simple terms that everyone understands and agrees with. This approach always saves time and energy, regardless of whether the issue is big, small, complicated or complex. And the time and energy saved increases with the number of people involved.

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THE EINSTEIN PROBLEM DEFINITION PROCESS

  1. Resource this activity generously and specifically (in the spirit of Einstein’s 55 minutes).
  2. Discuss the concepts and terms involved, ensuring everyone’s on the same page (do not brainstorm solutions until step six – if they arise, capture them and set them aside).
  3. Outline the context and principles that must be upheld or considered in the solution.
  4. Write a one sentence problem statement, then reformulate it as a question.
  5. Define the outputs (the tangible form the solution will take) and outcomes (what success looks like when the solution is delivered).
  6. Answer step four’s question, and address the outputs and outcomes defined in step five.

This process was first published on the DesignGov’s collective problem solving primer here.

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