Best Thinking: Uncovering the Invisible

When trying to solve a problem or make an important decision, how do you approach thinking about the solution?  Do you go with your first thought and go deeper with your focus on a solution?  Or, do you think wider, considering all the possibilities before you focus?

As an Intrinsic Coach, I have learned the value to the later.  When I am coaching front line hospital leaders who are facing problems, or difficult decisions, their first reaction to a problem is to start talking about strategies to solve the problem.  That seems like the obvious first step, right?  We only have so much time in the day, and we need a solution, now.  Our systemic thinking takes over.

Systemic thinking serves us well and tends to dominate our thinking.  Systemic thinking allows us to react quickly to a situation based upon our experience and knowledge.  This is perfect for solving a problem in an urgent, crisis situation like an internal disaster, or managing an unstable patient.  The solution is black and white and the variables around the situation are visible for all to see.  We base our decision on experience which is based upon old thinking and old knowledge.  Using old information can block our ability to see new information that may not be readily apparent.  That is the flaw in starting with systemic thinking when making decisions about non urgent situations.

In thinking about non-urgent situations, taking an intrinsic approach will serve you better.  When thinking about an important decision or solving a problem, disable the dominance of systemic thinking and consider the intrinsic.   The intrinsic means focusing on the goal and what is most important to you before you start to lay out the strategies to solve the problem.

The intrinsic leans on widening our thinking about the goal before we focus on a solution.  Intrinsic thinking means spending the most amount of time thinking to determine what is most important for this unique person or team, in this unique situation, in this moment in time.  It is based upon new thinking and searching for what is most important by uncovering thoughts that are initially invisible.


While having a conversation with a colleague who is in job transition, her first thought about her goal is “to find a job”.  “Find a job” is actually a strategy, and if we went forward from there we would have skipped the intrinsic.  As we talked about  what was really important to her about this decision, and about all the opportunities and thoughts about what she is looking for,  new thoughts began to emerge about what is important.  She began to uncover information and new thoughts that were previously not apparent to her.  Her intrinsic formulated a goal:  “To find a job in which I can truly be myself.”  What she is wanting is a job in which she can let her guard down and use her creative skills that she loves.  This opened up a new ideas and more options and possibilities.   Suddenly, there wasn’t panic about how I will find a job.  There was hope and energy about the array possibilities that can unfold in the future.  Her options quadrupled.

The goal in leaning on the intrinsic to promote best thinking is to uncover new learning, new information about what is important.  If we allow our minds the time to think about what is truly important, our strategies and actions will snap into place and we will know what to do, and it will be the right thing for us.

So the next time you are faced with an important decision or problem to solve, don’t go with the first thought that your systemic thinking offers as a solution.  Spend some time thinking broadly about what is truly most important to you as a unique person, in a unique situation in this moment in time.  If you use your intrinsic wanting to decide what to do, you will make better decisions about your future.

Tapping into the intrinsic takes discipline and self management.   Here are a few tips.

1.  Ask the “What” – “What do I want?”  “What is important to me in this situation?  Listen to your internal dialog for clues about what is most important.

2.  Don’t focus on the “How” till you determine the “What”.

3.  Don’t ask “Why?”.  Why takes us into the past and won’t be productive, unless you ask why to create new learnings.

4.  Don’t rehash information you already know.  And, If you are in a conversation with someone trying to make a decision, don’t ask questions about information they already know, for your own curiosity.  That is letting your systemic thinking dominate and it will interfere with their fragile, intrinsic thoughts.

5.  Start with broad thinking before you go narrow.  The broad thinking will make your practical thinking smarter and uncover more options.

Give this some thought.  Best thinking starts with clarity around goals which leads to best planning to achieve the outcomes that matter most.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Happy thinking, creating and being!