Tag Archives: solution crafting

Who Needs a Think Pond?

Why would people form or participate in a Think Pond?

Here are a few reasons. Do any of them resonate with you?

To develop new skills or stay current

  • I am good at X and I love doing it. However, most jobs where I would do X would also require me to do Y and Z. I don’t have those skills right now and don’t know how to develop them.
  • I am taking a few years off to care for my small children, but I need to stay connected and keep my skills current.
  • I don’t like to rush into things. I like to take my time. But I don’t want to find myself without options in 10 years.

To gain a broader perspective

  • My current job is specialized. I need opportunities to branch out.
  • Stepping outside of my usual work environment would help me find better solutions for the work I do.
  • I can’t even imagine what the future holds. How do I know I’m on the right track?

To prepare for career change

  • I need to build a resume or portfolio that will help me attain my dream job.
  • At mid-career, I have realized that I am no longer challenged by my job. The career path I charted in my 20s no longer makes sense and I don’t know which way to pivot.
  • I want to plan a new venture I can launch after I retire.
  • I am retired and want to find new interests or help others.

To experiment with new options

  • I think I have a solution to Problem X, but I have no way to test it.
  • My ideas about how to do X are different from the way most companies would do it. How do I prove I’m on to something?
  • I’ve always wanted to try a different role, but it’s impossible in my current company and I don’t want to change companies
  • I like my job but I’ll always wonder what would have happened had I continued with X

To overcome obstacles to a goal

  • I have a great idea but starting my own business (or nonprofit) right now is not feasible. I can’t afford to hire someone to do XY and Z. I am not plugged in to the people in that arena. There are some questions I’m not sure I can answer.
  • I like to do X and I’m good at it, but a traditional job just wouldn’t work for me right now.
  • I’d like to start a little side business where I can do X, but getting it going would be too time-consuming.

What Unites Us?

Pick out ten people from the phone directory, randomly. Chances are, they will differ widely in their methods for earning a living, their career aspirations, and their educational credentials. They will each have their own interests outside of work, their own ways of making the world better, and their own unique mix of strengths and struggles. However, something unites all their diverse enterprises–all the different ways they spend their time, earn their money, and pursue their own conceptions of excellence and success. What we all share are four inter-related, lifelong human capabilities:

We dream. We learn. We create. We launch.

Those capabilities are at the root of everything we do in the world and we continually develop them and draw from them. They underpin all our efforts to plan careers, pursue jobs, improve skills, build reputations, cultivate clients, and build networks. They are with us throughout our studies and in every job we hold, as well as in all the periods of transition and change in between. They are the cornerstones of what we do to add value in our workplace and in all the communities to which we belong.  They create the framework for facing challenges, confronting change or upheaval, and dealing with what disturbs or inspires us. They contribute to our everyday, mundane activities, such as cooking or shopping, our pursuit of and escape from routine, and all our efforts to care for family, friends, community, and world. They help us cope, persevere, grow, and find joy. Regardless of occupation or location or education or wealth, every person possesses these four capabilities in some form and develops them to some degree.

Those four endeavors are powerful tools we can use to confront the changes and uncertainties of this time and to live a more rewarding, meaningful life. Most of us, however, are not using the tools at our disposal to our full advantage, nor are we sharpening them in preparation for future challenges.

How can we pursue these endeavors with greater passion, intention, and discipline?

We All Need a Sounding Board

Have you ever had an original idea or theory that you know is good–but you keep it to yourself? Maybe you sense that the people around you don’t want to hear about it or think they wouldn’t understand. Maybe you’re worried someone might take credit for it or even steal it and use it for their own profit, so you keep it to yourself. Maybe a little part of you is afraid that people will try to talk you out of it or point out a major flaw.

I get it. Carrying around a good idea can be comforting and hopeful. It can feel exhilarating to know that you have this great solution in your back pocket that you can pull out when the right opportunity comes along.

But consider what could happen if you wait for that perfect moment: It comes. You have a potential spotlight. You are at a meeting or conference or networking event with influential people who can fund or support your idea. The perfect opening comes up and all eyes are on you.

You begin talking. If you’re like me, it is unlikely that you will take full advantage of the opportunity. Maybe the language you use will fail to capture the magic of your idea. Maybe you will get into too much detail about aspects that are not important. You finish knowing that your audience probably doesn’t understand the key point you wanted to convey, maybe even has the wrong idea of what you are presenting. If they ask questions, you may not be prepared to answer clearly. Your time is up. You know that if you start trying to correct their errors they will lose interest.

With your think pond, you can present your idea early and see how different people react. You can role play and practice so that when your time to shine arrives, you will confidently state your idea in language that hits the right notes. You have already answered many of the potential questions that will arise and maybe even defended your idea powerfully.

Moreover, you know there are people–somewhere out there–who believe.