Do You Focus on Cause or Effect?

As entrepreneurs, we seem to be primed by business theory to focus on results. Results based on financial forecasts, business growth, and profit. Yes, businesses need to profit, especially in these shifting economic tides, however when it comes to productive problem solving, focusing on “results” is the wrong way around. The reason why? Because focusing on “results” creates visual associations in your mind of an effect, and not the cause of your achievement. And if you cannot visualize the how, then you cannot achieve the effect.

THECUBE has been looking at studies as to why focusing on results is not productive, as well as what neurological functions are better for problem solving. Let’s start with an exercise:

  1. Imagine a horse jumping over a fence.
  2. Now, imagine how a horse would jump over a fence?

Which setting engaged your brain more, A or B? The majority say B. The reason is because when you ask your brain to imagine A, it is a within specific parameters. You have boxed in your results into old neurological patterns. In contrast, B asks a question, forcing the brain to move away from usual neurological patterns and create more associations, which then leads the brain to ask further questions, starting a catalyst for an innovative solution.

Recent research found in Norman Doidge’s book “The Brain That Changes Itself”, defies our usual perception of the brain being like a computer, which stores memory. It is more like interconnected patterns attached to a circuit board. For example, we understand what a tree is because of its neurological pattern in our brain. As we hear the word our brain generates the most immediate neurological pattern, allowing us to “see” the tree, which we then interpret and understand. Relying on past neurological connections can be useful, such as when you are trying to find your way home at night.

However, in business we are always looking to innovate better solutions, so we need new neurological patterns. Try the following to create better neurological patterns in order to generate fresh new solutions:

Control What Is Possible: Y=F(X)

Above is a problem solving formula used by industrial engineers. (Y) is the desired uncontrolled variable or desired result and (X) is the controlled variable or input. For example, a venture capitalist trying to decide whether or not to invest in a company should focus on why the company is a good investment (X). For example: What are the functions of the company? What is its economic ecology? What is the philosophy/psychology of its leaders?, What is its relevance to (fill in the blank?) If the X?s begin to add up to a good picture then the investor will be able to impact his desired result (Y), which is to make a wise investment. It is a simple formula: you generate good input (X) that effectively impacts the result.

Ask Questions

When you ask your brain a question it creates a feedback loop very much like a circuit. New research conducted at Yale University has found that the electrical field in the brain works like a circuit loop. So when posed with a question, your brain will continue to problem solve until it finds the desired solution. Ask questions like, “what are the qualities of a company?” Immediately the brain will begin to fire new neurological connections leading to a better solution and allowing the investor to spot an opportunity that might have otherwise been missed. Here are a couple of tips to make this work: Once a question is asked, sit back and observe the thoughts that come.

Relaxed Brain

When the brain is relaxed it is able to openly observe and find the best solution. For example, the final piece of the printing press was generated when the inventor was invited to a winery and saw the grapes being pressed. Now imagine if he was stressed or generating assumptions. He would have gone to the winery and come out none the wiser.