Solving problems is what you do every day. Generating solutions with focus and elegance helps you build your charisma and it makes you a better leader. In this KEY you will find a five-step practice used by the best solution generators. Teach the “NOOOA” (nu-ah) practice to your teams and family to improve their effectiveness, free up time and enjoy life even more. Help the people around you become world-class problem solvers. You will be creating a network of confident can-do solution generators who will bring energy, opportunities and inspiration back to you.
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The Solutions Gym – Your NOOOA Practice
Recently I waited to catch a flight in Detroit’s airport. A storm system was moving across the Northeast and many flights were delayed. When I got to the gate I was met by Dave the airline gate agent. He was an elderly man, calm, efficient and helpful. I watched as people lined up, each with their worries and concerns. They were each greeted warmly and looked after. Dave handled and resolved one problem after another very quickly. There was a quiet efficiency and grace about him. The entire airport was chaotic but Dave kept his gate tidy, almost serene. He kept his passengers informed to the best of his ability and looked after each one of them.
An hour later, the plane we were waiting for arrived, full of stressed passengers, all hoping to make it home. Dave was ready. The list was in his hand and he directed the passengers to their rerouted itineraries and new connection flights. Any problem was swiftly solved. He stood like a solid rock with a quiet presence. Faced with pressure and stress, he did not lose his temper or patience for a second. He clearly was not just doing a job. He was in service and on purpose, and he did it masterfully. He worked to ease and look after the passengers in the best possible way and get them home. He seemed engaged in an intense chess game as he shifted every problem into its solution. Can you imagine having this experience every time you get to an airport? Wouldn’t that be something? An airline with people like Dave would quickly become very popular and profitable.
When I encounter excellence, I’m stopped in my tracks. It’s attractive and I am moved to observe it. It does something to me. I try to learn from it, to decipher its code, to discover what makes it outstanding.
The Power of Practice
Practice is not overrated. It is forever underrated. Practice alone does not make you a world champion but it does get you close to it.
Sports, business, art, conversation, strategy, investment, problem solving – if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Practice is doing the right thing repeatedly. It is the investment you make to become world class in whatever you do. Genius and brilliance tend to show up for the well practiced.
You’ve got to go to the “gym” of what you want to become a champion in. You go to the gym, pool, track, or golf course to practice and stay fit. Whatever your pursuit is, you’ve got to find the gym that belongs to it. You want to be a teacher, an innovator, a singer, a leader or a chef. Get in the gym to practice-the teaching gym, the innovation gym, the singing gym, the leadership gym, the
cooking gym. Why do something unless you intend to be the best you can be? You need to find the trainer, the coach. You need to be engaged in the best practices of your chosen field; develop and cultivate these best practices.
You want to be a great problem solver, a solution generator? Get in the solution gym. Setbacks create opportunities. Problems bring new solutions. In our solutions-gym workshops you focus on solutions not on problems!
The “NOOOA” Practice
“NOOOA” is your first practice in the solutions gym. NOOOA stands for Need, Outcome, Options, Optimal, Action. Here is your five-step practice:
- Need – What is the need? What is the problem? Write a concise statement.
- Outcome – What is the desired outcome? Write a concise statement describing the desired results you want the solution to bring.
- Options – What options are available for you? What other creative solutions can you think about? What if? Challenge the assumptions about what cannot be done. Every problem has at least three, and usually many more, possible solutions.
- Optimal – What is optimal? Choose the criteria by which you will measure it. What are the most critical elements for success? Use these to evaluate your options: speed; cost; ease; efficiency; impact; adventure; development; sustained solution. Apply your criteria to choose your optimal option.
- Action – What is your first action? What can you do right now? Take action.
Follow “NOOOA” with discipline. Depersonalize problems. If you do not have problems, you are probably already dead. Living means facing problems and creating solutions to move forward. If the problems get bigger, it’s a sign you are getting better-the solutions gym keeps adding greater weights for you to develop your solution muscles. Go through the practice again and again. What’s the need? What’s the desired outcome? What are the options? What’s optimal? What is the first action? Develop the muscle memory. Build the patterns and movements. Become a world
class solution generator.
Now it’s your turn. Turn the Key. Engage the NOOOA practice. Coach and teach it to your teams, friends and family. Make these five steps a game you play together in the face of setbacks and challenges. Create a network of confident can-do world class solution
© Aviv Shahar
Strange. 50 in a few days. Graduating from high school was only yesterday. Suddenly 50. Back then, 50 looked like the other side of the mountain. Unthinkable. Whoops – it’s here. Feels strange to think I’ve now lived half of my life.
It’s been a great ride. Learning. Wisdom. Understanding. Great teachers. Amazing people I’ve learned from and worked with. Deep gratitude. Living is so much more than any concept I could have imagined. Still, it feels like I’ve just started. This has only been a warm up so far. A beginning. Many more things to do. To learn about. To find and explore. Conversations to open up. Problems to solve. Contributions to make. Stories to tell and live.
Five years ago I wrote down one hundred goals for myself. One of them was to touch and impact a million people in a positive, transformative way. Perhaps you can help. I don’t know how to count this. I have been transformed by strangers who did not know me, who did not know they were changing my life. I think of the teacher I met who walks into his class each time thinking he might inspire a student to be a president one day or to develop a new cure for cancer. The teacher may not live to actually see the realization of his prayers or his efforts.
I think I am ready to release the goal of impacting a million people. To let the intention live on its own. The lives of a million people will be touched positively free of my need to know. Like you, I do need a little validation. Not too much, just enough to keep going. To know I am headed in the right direction. To be part of a part of a greater realization is to know I have lived on purpose. We each need a witness in this life. It helps us bear witness to ourselves. 50 in a few days. What a journey. I am just beginning.
© Aviv Shahar