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How to Turn Idea Squashers into Possibilities


Managing a small business continues to become more challenging. However, history has shown that resourceful business owners will succeed. They will prosper, turning disadvantages into advantages by thinking creatively.

While entrepreneurs focused on competition fade into the past, those working from a creative standpoint will carry the torch. The creative individual will force the solution to a problem by looking closely at his or her vision, values, resources, and assumptions. He or she will find alternatives through creative problem solving.

I recently attended a business seminar where the presenter talked about "idea squashers." Squashers are assumptions that form barriers to creative thought. You've probably known someone who was great at coming up with squashers when first hearing new ideas. It's the familiar "Yeah but..." response. The trick is to turn the squasher into a possibility by responding to it with a leading question, or "assumption buster."

Here are some examples of squashers that block creative thought:

  • We've always done it this way.
  • I've already tried that.
  • There's too much competition.
  • It's irrelevant to our situation.
  • You don't have enough experience.
  • We don't have a big enough budget.
  • An "average Joe" can't get ahead.
  • We haven't got the manpower.
  • Someone might not like it.
  • Let's stick with what works.
  • It's too far ahead of the times.
  • That's not in my job description.
  • I'll get back to you later.
  • Stick with what you know.
  • It will take too much time.
  • Nobody asked you to do this.
By replying to these statements with leading questions, a reframing occurs. New possibilities and solutions begin to emerge.

Here are some examples of questions that challenge old assumptions:

"If we tried again, and made this slight change, how might it improve the results?"

"What could happen if you increased your skills and value by gaining knowledge in new areas?"

"What support would you need to accomplish this job?

"If we began again with a clean slate, what would you do differently?

"How could we determine the response to this idea in advance?"

"What other options are you willing to create?"

How would you turn the squashers listed above into possibilities? I'm sure you can think of more thought barriers similar to my examples.

This exercise will strengthen your creativity. It also makes an enlightening group activity. When someone replies to the leading question with another squasher, the questioner again challenges the answer with another leading question.

Try turning idea squashers into possibilities by challenging assumptions. You will generate many creative solutions that might have been overlooked. You will also solve problems in a way that is skill enhancing and enjoyable.

© Copyright 2004 by Steve Brunkhorst. Steve is a professional life success coach, motivational author, and the editor of Achieve! 60-Second Nuggets of Inspiration, a popular mini-zine bringing great stories, motivational nuggets, and inspiring thoughts to help you achieve more in your career and personal life. Contact Steve by visiting http://www.AchieveEzine.com


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