How do you like to solve your problems? Do you prefer to use the more creative problem solving techniques, or the systematic ones? You’ll get the best of both with the add-subtract-change method.

Add, Subtract, Change

I am sitting here looking at my bicycle as I write this. To come up with new ideas in bicycle design, all we have to do is look at the elements that are there and ask three things. What can we add, what can we subtract, and what can we change?

Would pet owners like a built-in dog or cat carrier? Are 18 gears necessary? There are still six gears and one less thing to break if a shifter is removed. What if the wheels were larger or the frame made of a flexible material? What would the advantages be?

Personal Problems Too

The add-subtract-change technique is well suited to developing new products, but what if your having trouble sticking to an exercise plan? Will this kind of problem solving method work for personal issues? You won’t know until you try it. Hmm…

Add: A better machine, motivation techniques, caffeine. Subtract: Distractions, unrealistic goals, uncomfortable clothing. Change: Location, time of day, type of exercise.

The key is to look at as many aspects of the current situation as you can identify, and to let your mind answer the three questions for each one. Taking notes is a good idea too, but write down everything. Don’t stifle your mind – the time to pick out the useable ideas is later.

There are dozens of good creative problem solving techniques you can use. Some will work better for you, some worse, but one way to solve problems effectively is to use more than one technique. Why not add this one to your arsenal?

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