Thinking Differently: An Approach to Creative Problem Solving

Thinking Differently: An Approach to Creative Problem Solving

Solving a difficult problem isn’t reserved for only the world’s greatest thinkers. Great creations are simply well-crafted solutions using organized, creative thinking. Here is a four step process so you, too, can become a great creative problem solver!

Step 1 – Define the problem

This step is the most critical. Albert Einstein once said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” Think about it – if you get this step wrong, it immediately puts you on the wrong track and all the work that comes after moves you further from the solution. In short, you want to understand as much about the issue as you can. Write down everything you know about the problem and related answers to define what you need to investigate. Summarize your thoughts into a single problem statement.

Step 2 – Ideate

Don’t overthink this step. The time and energy you put into defining the problem will create quite a few ideas, many of them unorganized, bouncing around in your brain. The goal is to take all these thoughts out of your brain and put them into writing. Don’t do any internal filtering – it all needs to come out. Brainstorming is all about quantity with no regard for quality. (Quality control will come later!) Think about it like starting a puzzle by first dumping all the pieces out of the box. If you left any in the box, you have no chance of completing the puzzle. The more out-of-the-box and abstract the idea, the better!

Step 3 – Develop your ideas

Once you have all your idea fragments written down, you’ll notice a few that rise to the top as possible solutions. Identify these top 3 to 5 solutions, then see if the rest of your brainstorming ideas can fit as a supporting detail with any of these main solutions. Now think through why each of these ideas might yield a solution and form a hypothesis as to how this idea will play out. From there, break apart the hypothesis and identify any potential flaws. Revealing possible weak spots is a great starting point to defining the pathway for a solution.

Step 4 – Implement your solution

This final step may seem daunting, but the key is to break the final project into as many bite-size steps as possible. The smaller and easier it is to manage, the better. Identify each step of the implementation process, write down the dependencies for each of these steps and connect them together to work towards the final solution. As you work through them, it’s important to stay flexible as unforeseen obstacles will arise and you need to be able to pivot.

Continue to work through your problem solving process, retesting and refining as you go. Odds are you’ll initially take some steps backwards, but don’t give up! The ability to stay resilient is as important as the process itself to reach your final goal.

Protect Your Video Conference Meetings

Protect Your Video Conference Meetings

Avalanche of new remote workers creates latest playground for hackers

Hackers have found their new playground amid the increased use of video conferencing during the coronavirus pandemic: Zoombombing!

Zoombombing defined

Named for the company Zoom, the unfortunate first high-profile victim of this phenomena, Zoombombing occurs when internet trolls hack video conference meetings and join as uninvited attendees. After infiltrating a meeting, the hackers then have their fun, doing everything from performing harmless pranks to posting sexually explicit content.

Ideas to keep your meetings private

You can protect yourself, your friends and your company while using popular video conferencing tools with these tips.

  • Monitor meeting attendance. Designate an employee to monitor the attendees of your video conferencing meetings. By assigning a moderator (host), attendees can be removed or dismissed.
  • Create a waiting room for new attendees. Most conferencing platforms have a feature called a waiting room. When this feature is enabled, each user who connects to your meeting is put in a queue. The meeting host then approves each person waiting in the queue for admission to the meeting.
  • Turn off screen sharing for everyone but the meeting host. A favorite Zoombomber prank is to hack into a meeting, share their screen and then draw something really funny or inappropriate. Consider only allowing the meeting host to share a screen and to give permissions to others who subsequently want to share a screen.
  • Password protect your meetings. As a meeting organizer, you can also choose to password-protect your meetings. Don’t forget to distribute the password to all attendees prior to the meeting.
  • Carefully choose your video conferencing service. With many different companies offering video conferencing services, it can be difficult to find which company features the best security measures. Take the time to do your homework to find the platform that’s right for your business.
Answers to Common COVID-19 Unemployment Questions

Answers to Common COVID-19 Unemployment Questions

The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides individuals and businesses significant financial relief from the financial strain caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

Here is a snapshot of the unemployment benefits section of the bill and how it affects individuals and businesses.

  • Who qualifies to receive unemployment benefits? In addition to full-time workers who are laid off or furloughed, the Act provides individuals who are not already eligible for state and federal unemployment programs, including self-employed individuals and part-time workers, a set amount of unemployment compensation.
  • How much will I receive? There are two different components to the new law’s unemployment benefits:
    • Each worker will receive unemployment benefits based on the state in which they work, and
    • In addition to their state unemployment benefits, each worker will receive an additional $600 per week from the federal government.
  • How will benefits for self-employed workers be calculated? Benefits for self-employed workers are calculated based on previous income and are also eligible for up to an additional $600 per week. Part-time workers are also eligible.
  • How long will the state unemployment payments last? The CARES Act provides eligible workers with an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. Most states already provide 26 weeks of benefits, bringing the total number of weeks that someone is eligible for benefits to 39.
  • How long will the federal payments of $600 last? The federal payment of $600 per week will continue through July 31, 2020.
  • How do I apply for unemployment benefits? You must apply for unemployment benefits through your state unemployment office. Most state applications can now be filled out online. Workers who normally don’t qualify for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed individuals, need to monitor their state’s unemployment office website to find out when they can apply, as many states need to update their computer systems to reflect every type of worker who is eligible to collect unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.

What to do now

If you have not already done so, you must file for unemployment with your state as soon as possible. State offices and websites are being slammed, so the sooner you get in the queue the better for you and your loved ones. And remember, these benefits now apply to self-employed and part-time employees.

OVERTIME RULING BLOCKED BY TEXAS JUDGE

OVERTIME RULING BLOCKED BY TEXAS JUDGE

As you likely already know, on December 1 a rule was set to go into effect that would double the maximum salary from $23,660 to $47,500 that a person could make and be eligible for overtime pay. However, on November 22, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Texas granted a nationwide injunction against the ruling, in essence agreeing with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 21 states that wanted it halted. This is a developing story and we are sure there will be additional news on this front soon, but we wanted to make sure you were aware of it. To read more see these articles from Reuters and NBC.

Verified by ExactMetrics