What’s Your Problem? | Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg

Summary of: What’s Your Problem?: To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve
By: Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg


In the book ‘What’s Your Problem?’, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg unravels the art of reframing problems to maximize the effectiveness of your problem-solving skills. By highlighting the importance of analyzing problems from different perspectives, the author helps readers to avoid biases and hasty actions. Drawing on real-world examples, this book presents an array of counterintuitive solutions that encourage an in-depth study of a problem. Expect to learn valuable lessons on how to better identify the right problem, question your assumptions, and devise innovative solutions.

Reframing Problems

Innovation expert Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg cautions against the pitfalls of misidentifying business problems and offers a novel approach to problem-solving. He provides several counterintuitive real-world solutions, emphasizing the importance of reframing problems. For example, rather than replacing a slow elevator, Wedellsborg suggests adding mirrors to the lobby to entertain tenants while they wait. By questioning traditional approaches and seeking input from non-experts, this quick and amusing read demonstrates the value of thinking creatively to find success in solving problems. The book has been named a top leadership pick among 2020 books by bestselling author Adam Grant.

Problem Framing and Reframing

Learning to frame problems correctly is crucial to generate better solutions. Reframing problems from different perspectives can help you avoid bias and generate new ideas. The author takes the example of the ‘slow elevator problem’ to showcase how reframing can help solve problems creatively. To frame a problem accurately, it’s essential to test your thinking in the real world. The author advises considering emotions around a problem and how they may affect thinking. In summary, reframing can help ensure you are solving the right problem and opens up new solutions.

Innovative Solutions to Reduce Shelter Dogs

Two agencies tackled the challenge of reducing the number of dogs in shelters for adoption. BarkBox introduced an app showing a million dog profiles per month, resulting in over 250,000 downloads. Downtown Dog Rescue interviewed people who gave up their pets and found that 75% cited a lack of resources. By assisting these families, they decreased spending per animal and reduced the number of dogs at their Rescue agency. Both agencies provide innovative and effective strategies to reduce the number of shelter dogs, highlighting the importance of addressing the root causes of this issue.

Reframing Problems

To reframe a problem effectively, write it down in a few sentences, identify the stakeholders involved, and challenge your assumptions about the problem. By clarifying your higher-level goals, you can avoid default solutions. A successful example of reframing is a Brazilian CEO who improved the market’s perception of his company’s stock by changing the communication channel from junior, untrained people to experienced personnel speaking to analysts.

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