3 powerful techniques for problem solving

We, the Homo sapiens, solve problems every day. One of our greatest tools (but not the best) is intuition. Our most common method for solving problems is that of trial and error. Based on this context, we learn from our mistakes and when we get to the solution of a problem, we learn how we did it. In this way, we build a “bridge” in our brain, which helps us in the future when we want to solve a similar problem. The issue is that there are many techniques that we can apply to improve our ability to solve problems in everyday life, whether in study, work or any situation; Every day we face a problem, as simple as it may be. The key is to structure our analysis, which serves as a framework for later thinking the problem in greater depth and thinking alternatives. However, a word of caution: intuition is a double-edged sword. Thomas Gilovich couldn’t have said it better: “We believe certain things because they ought to be true.” Sometimes, just because we believe that something must be true because we believe it (sounds obvious), does not allow us to examine other alternatives to the solution of a problem.

Now, I present 3 tools that can serve to improve our ability to solve problems:

1) Divergence and convergence: With the first, we seek to explore and look for new things. It is a process to look for new options and ideas. Convergence is the opposite, we seek a response or conclusion. The idea would be to apply both concepts separately, and in different parts. The ideal would be to diverge and then to converge.

2) Restating the problem: In several different ways, is a divergent technique that opens our minds to alternatives. For example, changing the focus of the problem, rephrasing it in a broader context, or asking the question “how can we get employees to come to the picnic?”, to rephrase it to “how can we make employees not come to the picnic?”.

3) Applying the scientific method: Which was something I learned from my mentor Yimi, in order to solve problems. We present our problem as a hypothesis, and we want to see if applying a given solution, we arrive at the thesis is true.

Success and the power of mentorship


“And you ask any successful person how they got to where they are today, chances are they’ll tell you about a mentor they had somewhere along the way.”– Barack Obama[1]

People are complex but, in a great way, we are defined by our environment and ambitions.  Having clear objectives, is the first step towards success, because after that moment you can work towards them.

Today, looking backwards, having gone through university and some first professional experiences I’m convinced that a mentor can bring down obstacles.  The first time I came across a mentor formally was during my participation in the SABF team and I will always be grateful for her dedication.

A mentor gives you the means to improve personal and professional skills. It raises awareness of your strengths and weaknesses to better align yourself towards your goals. It inspires you and brings more confidence when facing challenges.  It´s important to be open minded to receive advice and be willing to work on it.

To find a mentor the most important thing is to learn to approach people for advice.  And to take the most out of the relationship, you have to be honest about your own personal and professional objectives.

Without doubt, if you seek for a mentor you will win opportunities to meet interesting people and enrich your experiences.  Always be open to give advise, people are amazing!

Entrepreneurs making some noise – Endeavor Experience 2015

“Ultimately, we are like a virus to create opportunities”, answered Guibert Englebienne in his conversation over a fake whisky, reflecting about high impact entrepreneurship. It was the first talk of the afternoon session in the Experiencia Endeavor 2015, which was held last June 2nd in the Usina del Arte, Buenos Aires, and the question “What makes an entrepreneur?” was again answered (or, at least, asked) by some of the speakers.

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Alexis Caporale: “I left some life on each entrepreneurial milestone”

Alexis is 25 years old. Together with his sister, he founded Bixti in 2010, the first trading platform of handicrafts for the Spanish-speaking market, which was sold to Elo in 2012. In 2013 he co-founded Trimaker, company that develops 3D printers. Besides, he is a teacher at EmprendING (Faculty of Engineering), and wrote a book about the Future of Energy.

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The Entrepreneurs and Willpower

There is only one person capable of limiting your own growth: yourself

Every venture begins from a vision, a purpose, a dream, a desire. This is what motivates us, what put us in movement. But, what is the motivation? From the linguistic point of view it is an abstraction, it is not tangible at all but we can translate it by saying it is the fuel, the energy we need to cover the distance between your present and where you want to go, your journey toward that vision, dream or desire.

What do we need in addition to motivation to start this journey? WILL.

The will is closely related to the motivation.

The will is the capacity of human beings that makes us do things intentionally, in spite of the difficulties, setbacks and mood.

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Better the angel you don’t know than the devil you do

We had the opportunity to participate in the workshop “Innovation in companies” organized by the Unión Argentina de Jóvenes Empresarios [Argentinian Union of Young Businessmen] (UNAJE) given by Rolando Meyer, industrial engineer of the ITBA, Design Thinking teacher at Universidad de San Andrés and co-founder of the mobile shopping app Tobuy. We met Rolando in the tenth edition of the South American Business Forum (2014), and in this workshop he showed us the advantages of leaving our comfort zone and plunging into the wonderful world of innovation.

“To innovate is to transform knowledge”

The term “design thinking”, so in vogue nowadays in large and small organizations, refers to the designers’ way of thinking applied to business. To innovate is nothing else that to work on something that doesn’t exist, to work in the future. To do it, we must bear in mind certain maxims:

  • “Un-learning is as important as learning”.
  • “To innovate is to challenge the status quo”.
  • “Everything that exists today was once imagined”.

A starting point is not to have fixed limits in the creative process, to go beyond feasibility, since every innovation in its time was slightly feasible or viable. We may well say that the best part of learning from mistakes is having made them.

An innovator is someone who is after the novelty, without asking why but why not and what for.

We are all creative since childhood, but we unlearn it. We cease marvelling about the contingent of the reality and the world and we content ourselves with a superficial and comfortable look. Everything around us might not have been, but it is. And we take it for granted. We must again trust in our creative eye and marvel at our surroundings.

Those shooting stars called ideas…

Ideas come and go. They appear when we are not looking for them. At any time. They are untimely. Taking into account the untimeliness ideas may have in their origin, it is always advisable to write down, whether it is in paper or in screen, what our intellect creates. And not to fool ourselves by saying, “I’m going to remember it”. If we let them go we may not see them again since, in this sense, ideas resemble shooting stars.

“It is not about how good you are, but how good do you want to be”

While ideas are like shooting stars, the creative process and the act of thinking can be compared with a physical activity: it needs training. There is a series of steps and basic attitudes to give birth to ideas. These steps or “ingredients” are as follows: design thinking

  1. The collection of information, of the raw material we extract directly from information sources. It is determinant in our context and environment.
  2. The chewing of the information, the analysis. The tasting of the idea.
  3. Then, the incubation. An internal process in which our brain matures the processed information from our environment.
  4. This whole process can lead to the idea. It is important to write it down!
  5. The adaptation is important, because every idea is an anecdote of what it is going to be.

Once the idea generation process is known, we must highlight the mood and attitude that lead us to be a serial idea generator. Some proactive attitudes are:

  1. Confidence attitude, believing. There are opportunities everywhere, we just need other eyes. To readapt our look.
  2. Serendipity attitude. An induced causality. Attention to what is happening around us. Attentive and sharp mental predisposition. Predisposition to see.
  3. Exploratory attitude. Not only externally, but internally. To develop our sensitivity.
  4. “Doer” attitude, action oriented, always doing and trying, over and over again.
  5. A combined planning and improvising attitude. These two extremes are too rigid and too flexible at the same time but are important in any creative process.
  6. Stubborn attitude, always doing “trial and error”.
  7. “I ask for forgiveness but not for permission” attitude, disrespect for the status quo. Enough madness to think about changing the world, and being able to do so.
  8. Inspiring attitude. We live in this world and we are inspired by models. Copy-paste attitude: we take things from others.

Finally, it is difficult to think differently but to do so we must take into account how things were done in the past. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, for example, it was unthinkable that there was another continent in the world (America!). At the end of the twentieth century, the iPhone was almost unfeasible.

The creativity issue lies in inducing the unthinkable thinking. Every idea is a combination of old elements. We must go beyond. Urgency may be the mother of innovation.

Why being realistic if reality can be changed? Are you ready to innovate?