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February 10, 2011 / Mike Biggs

5 tools to help solve household problems in a jiffy- Article published on

Here is a link to my article which was just published on, a site which hosts a collection of 5’s for busy modern parents.


The evaluation of a problem and searching for the best solution can be a big task especially when it is a household problem that needs to be dealt with. The tools that I share today are simple and effective in helping groups understand the problem, come to fast solutions and get back to enjoying life and their time together.

1. Good, Bad, Better
There are variations on this concept attributable to leaders in the Lateral thinking space and to a comedian, but I will not go into that much detail here.

How to use it: This tool is designed to put your mind into analysis mode and look at the good and bad points of the situation. Firstly you write down all the good points, then all the bad. Each person concerned might have different points, some might be contradictory. That’s ok, note them all down, and don’t make judgements. Then once you have exhausted the good and the bad, you can start thinking about the better. This is the creative part, try to generate as many better’s as you can that will both improve on the good, and potentially solve the bad. The best solution will answer more of the bad’s listed by the group.

2. Random Input
This technique adds a random value and adds it to your problem, allowing new avenues of thought.
Define your problem as clearly as you can. Then add a random concept to it. You can get a random concept by looking up the dictionary and selecting (at random) a word, or by selecting from some picture cards, or some other completely random method.
Then you add the word, or concept to your problem to see if there are any ways the new concept can lead to solutions to the problem.

Our problem is that we do not have enough time for everyone to use the bathroom in the morning.
And the random input is: dog.
If you apply some concepts which normally only apply to a dog, you might develop some solutions to the main problem. Some lines of thinking that immediately come to mind are: A dog can be hosed to get clean, and he also sleeps outside. Could there be opportunities to shower or sleep in a different way to before, which could lead to smoother bathroom use?

3. Humour and Paradox
Humour is a great way to be creative, but it is understanding why that will make it more useful to you.
Humour, put simply is the contradiction of expectations. It’s a paradox in your mind until the truth of the situation is revealed. In that moment of realization we experience humour.
In life, problems exist and we assume that there is a solution. A single correct solution. This could not be further from the truth. Really, there are many truths that suit different people in different situations. They are all right, but they are all different.

So like humour we need to accept that there are paradoxes all around us, and when dealing with personal situations, especially that of a household, there are different ‘right’ solutions to problems for different people. Acceptance is the first step which will allow you to live with multiple truths for each individual. And the ultimate goal is less friction between opposing ‘truths’.

4. Peel the orange
This concept comes from military training and is very simple. Sometimes you need to think about things, other times you just need to do an action.

Peel the Orange (PTO) means to just do the task, simply peel the orange. Don’t ask why we are peeling it or how to peel it, just do the task. The person receiving the instruction should simply PTO. They should realize that there is a time for thinking about and planning how to peel oranges, but when it is their turn to do it, they should just listen to the instruction and do it.

All action cannot accompany detailed analysis. Understanding this leads to more efficient action, and provides the separation of the planning component which can be done by another party, or by the same party at another (more appropriate) time.

5, Do a Not- Doing
This is a concept shared by Carlos Castaneda and is intended to build ‘personal power’, however I beleive it is a powerful creativity tool.

Literally take the dishes for a drive in the car as though they were a member of the family and don’t get out of the house much. The reason this is a successful creative act is due to two things:
a; the confidence required to do what appears to be completely pointless and nonsensical builds both your esteem, and creative outlook.
b; the practical act exposes you to new situations and new physical experiences that would not have occurred otherwise. This will lead to new connections in the mind, along your driven path, and with any simmering problems that are in the back of your mind.

They key is to have fun whilst doing all of these things 🙂

What do you think?




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