Thursday, 20 January 2011

Levelling the field

Specialists with a problem sometimes have difficulty involving others in creative problem solving. One difficulty is providing enough information so that work on the issue can be meaningful, but preventing non specialists from drowning in detail.

The problem owner risks either over simplifying the issue or getting stuck in the complexity of the detail so that nothing can move.

Jargon can be a barrier to shared understanding. People may not want to look stupid by asking questions and imagine that all of their colleagues know what everything means.

Colleagues may imagine that they all comprehend the issue in the same way. However language can be a false friend and mean different things to everyone involved.

I'm a big fan of making things concrete. This challenges the problem owner to be explicit about the issue. The concrete representation is easier to use in considering various aspects of the problem and looking for solutions.

Here's one example. Hans Rosling may have omitted some factors affecting the issue, but he has managed to create a level field on which everyone can participate.

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