I have a question for you.
If you had the exact same brushes that Da Vinci had, can you create paintings like him? I know for a fact that I can’t.
And what if Da Vinci had only a simple pencil to draw? Could he create something remarkable?
And the answer is yes.
The point I am trying to highlight here is often we are too focused on not having the most expensive tools and we haven’t yet mastered the basic techniques yet.
We are focused on what type of gloves Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson uses.
We are focused on what pair of shoes Usain Bolt uses.
I remember every single time I saw a great piece of photography, I’d ask about the camera model. I didn’t ask about what field of depth or aperture settings she used. I asked about the camera. As if only if I had access to the camera, I could take similar artistic pictures. But in reality, I had no idea how to use that camera. even if I had access to the most advanced camera and other accessories, the truth is I was still shooting using the automatic settings and I didn’t know how to tap into the powerful features of an advanced camera.
I have mostly worked in the high voltage industry. typically around 275,000 volts level. Now at that level, things can be very unforgiving. Any small mistakes can have major consequences. So I had the opportunity to work closely with some of the best minds in the business. And today I am going to share the 8 secrets I observed in the top professionals.
1. Focusing on value creation
The best of the best look for the value they can create, the outcome. Not how fancy the tool is. They develop the skills to maximize the outcome. Once you develop the right skills, you can use simple techniques like 5 whys, Swot analysis or Scatter plots to deliver remarkable insights.
2. Analyzing from multiple perspectives
They look at the problem through many different lenses. To A hammer everything looks like a nail. And you should not try to use a hammer to paint the wall. Have you experienced when a so-called expert who suffers from tunnel vision and tries to force his one technique in all sorts of problems? They actually do more damage to the business. But the best in business learn to expand their repertoire and look at the problem from many different angles. And if they can’t find a good fit, they simply collaborate with someone else who has the required expertise.
3. Mastering key principles
The top professionals try to understand and master the principles of the tools and techniques. Some techniques can be very advanced and take years to master. But there are always a few key principles that drive the rest of the process. If you get the principles right, you will get most of the techniques right.
4. Continuous learning
They actually do their research and learn from good mentors and peers. They read Books. They study Best practices. They take training courses. Go to conferences. They are always testing their own assumptions and at the same time open to new ideas.
5. Not being slaves to processes
They are not hung up on the process. They master the principles. And they are not slaves to processes. They understand a process that has been effective before, can be useless or even damaging if the context changes. They are aware of the Cynefin framework.
6. Designing simple solutions
To solve complex problems, they look for simple solutions. Complex solutions have many hidden issues. So, to solve a complex problem you need to have an overarching framework that is simple to understand and simple to use.
7. Applying systems thinking
For complex systems and complex problems, they understand the need to focus on peripheral nature and the relationship between multiple variables. They use systems thinking. They would break down a big system into several smaller modules (subsystems), deal with the issues within individual modules if possible so that they can test, contain and resolve most issues within the subsystems, and limit and monitor the relationships between the subsystems.
8. Getting buy-ins
They get buy-ins from stakeholders. Because they use Simple overarching frameworks, they can explain the issues and the proposed solution easily to non-technical stakeholders. The solution doesn’t remain a mysterious black box to them. This way they can gain confidence and trust from the stakeholders.