Rumor has it that when Einstein was troubled by a problem, he would lie down and take a nap.
There is now research galore that shows this is actually a smart thing to do, because the mind actually solves problems when asleep. How awesome is this?
Some interesting headlines
- While asleep, the brain is separating the signal from the noise, by letting the noise die down. It then continues to sort and file, work the challenge, and surface ideas.
- The conscious mind has a relatively low capacity to integrate and hold information. As a result, people can consider only a small subset of relevant information when trying to solve a problem. By contrast, the sub-conscious mind has a higher capacity to integrate more information, which can lead to more and therefore probably better choices.
- The more interested one is in solving the challenge, the more likely the sub-conscious will generate ideas.
A process that supports problem solving
A big take-away message for me, as a practitioner of facilitating large group collaborative workshops in our Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE):
- When you have a decision to make, the first step should be to get all the information necessary for the decision. Once you have the information, and it’s time to decide, for simple decisions – go for it! Conscious thought is the way to go.
- But for complex decisions, such as how to take significant costs out of the business, or how to find at least £400M of new revenue from new products in 2 years, “sleeping on it” is amazingly powerful.
The power of unconscious thought
The idea that we can think unconsciously and that unconscious thought is actually superior to conscious thought for complex decisions is one reason why our 3-day ASE DesignShops enable our clients to achieve 6 to 9+ months’ worth of work and why they say they could never have achieved these results following a traditional way of working.
These results are attributed of course to our collaborative environment and a patented methodology for tapping into group genius, but rest assured (pun intended), the two nights in between enable the magic to happen.
Cracking the code
Time is a priceless gift, a precious commodity nowadays. Advice we give our clients: go slow to go fast. Go slow, meaning invest the time. But that investment helps the participants crack the code on problems they hadn’t been able to solve in months if not years.
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