When you’re stuck with a tough decision — between a rock and a hard place — it’s time to invent a third, better option. Just think creatively, and look at the problem from a new perspective. Here are five ways to expand your thinking and find a better option right now:
Explain to all parties what’s wrong with the current options, and ask them if they can come up with alternatives. Sometimes, all it takes is asking!
Do some additional research. Get online, and search for someone who has a better approach. New designs, vendors, inventions, and much, much more are at your fingertips if you just take the time to do a thorough search.
Grab two other people, find a table or conference room, and start brainstorming. Don’t stop until you’ve generated several more options. Then pick the most appealing idea, and do another round of brainstorming to refine it. It’s amazing how much progress you’ll make when you commit to thinking hard about a problem for a couple hours.
Copy someone else’s success. Someone’s probably faced the dilemma you’re in and already come up with a better solution. Learn from that person instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. The process of learning from other people’s success is called benchmarking. All you have to do is think of some person (or organization) that must have wrestled with your problem already and then call up that person and ask what he or she did.
Watch out for patented inventions, of course. If you find that the perfect solution is patented, contact the owner and ask whether you can license the rights to use the design.
Find an expert. There are experts on just about everything at any major state university (or other college or university, but state schools tend to be more accustomed to handling questions from businesses). Admittedly, academic experts tend to be . . . well, academic, but they often have a different perspective from business executives, and that may be all you need to get started on an alternative plan of action.