While ETL is a treasure trove of interesting lessons, one of the most interesting exercises was the idea of generating 100 ways to solve a problem, featured in Tina Seelig’s talk. What’s so brilliant about this is that it forces a deep understanding of both the problem, the mechanisms that cause it, and all of the levers one might pull to create change. All of the simple answers and platitudes (which likely haven’t been implemented for a good reason), melt away in the face of the sheer volume and depth required to generate 100 different solutions. This approach also forces orthogonal thinking, which leads to the kinds of disruptive innovations we all chase (along with many bad ideas). The exercise achieves many of the same ends as Google’s 10x philosophy – avoiding incrementalism, and being willing to reimagine the entire thing from the ground up, but provides a system to help spark the necessary frame of mind. Definitely something I want to store away for future use.
Any other ETL listeners out there? Would love to hear your thoughts on your favorite episodes. If not, let me know what some of your favorite problem solving techniques are.