The usual way to approach problems that your team may face is in a step-by-step fashion. This is called linear or vertical thinking. However, often we tend to not line up the premises in a normal step-by-step fashion. When your team needs to approach a problem in a different order, they are using non-linear thinking. Sometimes, non-linear thinking is also called lateral thinking.
Encourage Your Team to Step Out of Their Comfort Zone
One of the first steps in developing non-linear thinking in your team is to encourage them to step out of their comfort zone. Basically, this concept involves your team seeing information or circumstances from a different perspective. A zone is defined as an area set apart in some way. In critical thinking and problem-solving, your team sometimes have to get out of the areas or zones that make them comfortable and stretch their thinking.
Remind Your Team Not to Jump to Conclusions
An important step in problem solving is for your team to take the time to acquire the necessary information. Often, teams tend to jump to conclusions before they have all of the facts. How can your team use their understanding of logic to gather all the necessary facts? Remember, the premises are the facts or statements that help us come to conclusions.
Encourage Your Team to Expect and Initiate Change
“Be the change you wish to see,” is a common slogan on bumper stickers. With so many events happening on an international and national level each day, change is simply a standard course in businesses. We can always expect changes in organizations. Nothing stays the same, and we sometimes are in the position where we the ones initiating the change.
Your Team Must Be Ready to Adapt
The question in today’s culture is not will change occur in an organization, but how well are teams at adapting to change. Team members protect themselves from becoming obsolete by changing. Adaptation is a survival skill of nature. The species which survive in an environment are those that are capable of adapting well.
There are times that linear thinking is simply not sufficient to solve the problem that is facing your team. This is where non-linear thinking comes into play. For your team to be effective in non-linear thinking they will need to step out of their comfort zones and guard against jumping to conclusions. Your team needs to expect and initiate change, always being ready to adapt, if they are going to be effective in non-linear thinking.
If you want to develop non-linear thinking in your team, our problem solving outcome based team building activities are designed to develop non-linear thinking and other problem solving skills.