Articles and papers written by some of the industries top thought-leaders on business strategy and transformation.

Why Your First Answer Isn’t the Best Answer

We’re all taught to seek the answer. To business issues, professional challenges, personal stuff.
We also have a need for speed when it comes to finding that answer.  After all, finding the answer as quickly as possible is how we win.  Right?

Not really.

Our First Answer is Rarely Our Best Answer

That’s because the initial answers we find are based on what we expect and anticipate. What we’ve been programmed to accept. We tend to stop at the limits of what is comfortable for us.  Our minds look for what’s anticipated and when it gets it – it stops and sits in the warm fuzzies of that answer. That first answer is based on our past experiences and the expectations we’ve defined based on said experiences.

That answer is defined within a box, based on tip-of-the iceberg information and beliefs.  That’s not a step forward into fresh, innovation solutions.

Our best answers live in the undiscovered ideas and concepts we haven’t even thought of yet.  To find our best answers, we need to step outside of our experiences and expectations. We need to dive deeper to find the options that are hidden beneath our dependence on what we’ve learned in the past.

That’s why our first answer is rarely our best answer.

Beyond That First Answer

How do you go beyond that first answer? How do you breakthrough the box that’s been created in your mind? Find the nuggets of innovation hidden below the surface?

It’s easy. Keep asking questions.  Once you get to that first answer, keep going!

Ask things like:

  • What else is a solution?  Brainstorm every single option you can come up with. And then brainstorm some more. Just keep asking, “What else? What else?”
  • What else  can we add to this idea?  Once you have  a list of solutions, start adding to them, bundling them together, creating innovation and new ideas out of all that new fodder. Keep asking,”What else?”
  • What else do they do in other markets? don’t forget to, “What else?” using ideas and answers from other industries, other markets, other places on the planet. Just keep looking for it, for “What else?”
  • What else can I do? What else have others done?  Think you’ve pushed the boundaries  far enough? Keep pushing.  Just keep asking yourself, “What else?”

The key is to simply keep pushing past the box of answers we already know, and into new thinking. The farther out of the box we go, the more innovative we become.

The Bottom Line

The first answer is rarely the best answer.  That first answer is like a kneejerk response to that hammer, it’s innately programmed into us.

To find our best solutions, we need to move beyond that first answer and into new thinking and fresh ideas.  That’s why it’s a great technique to simply keep asking, “What else?”  Dig deeper and deeper until you find that powerful idea, buried beneath all those knowns that get in the way of progress.