Creative Problem Solving Tool
I created a framework using my mixed martial arts (MMA) training for solving business problems by diagnosing the battle position of my opposition. I realized that it could also be used for those interesting arguments that turn up in every day life.
The post that follows illustrates how I used the MMA framework to tease something out of a blind spot to make the issue available for me to analyze and solve.
This article was originally published as a guest post written by me on a blog called, “Linked to Leadership” in April 2012. I have reposted it here with some editorial changes to reflect my voice on “WhoDoYouRespect.com?”. Plus, to illustrate the martial arts skill sets mentioned below, I’ve included some old photos of me sparring with my teacher, Mark Johnson and one of my BJJ classmates, Les.
2015 UPDATE: Three years later, I’ve turned my MMA framework into a game that I call “DramaGuru Revelation”. It’s fun. It’s effective. And you can play the game in your everyday life. I’ve created a set of DramaGuru playing cards that I’m very excited about. At some point, I will make them available for sale.
Pacing: How I Realized I Was in Sprint Mode Most of the Time
Problems sometimes get solved in the most unusual ways. As I worked through a framework designed to help me look at one business problem in a new way, I had a “Eureka! moment” pertaining to solving an entirely different problem.
What popped into my mind was a solution to a problem that I didn’t even realize I had. It surfaced while I was trying to solve something else entirely. It had to do with my preferred mode for engaging in problem-solving at a very quick pace.
Analyzing my preference for fast paced tasks allowed me to see the benefits of a different, slower pace.
Cross Functional Analysis: Using Martial Arts Skills to Solve Business Problems
I trained in the different components of mixed martial arts (MMA) for five years. One day, I wondered whether I could solve a business problem using the technical MMA skills I practice at Florian Martial Arts.
MMA techniques are powerful, combative tools for solving problems students face when sparring with a training partner. They work well with my fast-paced nature.
Striking: Striking came to represent dynamic, verbal attacks.
Wrestling and BJJ: Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ or the ground-fighting game) represented actions or answers that involved a methodical approach to blocking or controlling someone or something.
Take Downs: Take downs (or body slams) are those things that abruptly stop something or someone. For instance, going on strike or a work slow-down is a severe take down undertaken when employment contract negotiations are at an impasse.
Counter Attack: Every move that an opponent can deliver in a match is generally met with a counter-move or counter-attack.
Analyzing The Problem: Pick up the pace!
Lining up my thoughts and ideas underneath the appropriate headings, I noticed some irritation and tension whenever I added something to the BJJ ground game list.
Eureka! Tasks that are slow, methodical, twisty or frequently interrupted were unconsciously causing me irritation.
I prefer fast paced activities. The quick pace pleases the striker in me. I’m tall with long limbs, good for punching and kicking and applying the quickness to my feet to get out of harm’s way.
Slower paced activity often feels boring.
Finding the Right Gear: Applying the same pace to a different task
What popped into my head was that when I’m working with a training partner (“rolling” as we call it in jiu jitsu practice,), I’m applying the wrong pace. The ground game is different from my “stand-up” or boxing and kicking game.
Of course! Why didn’t I notice it before? I often say to my training partner that she is moving at a jiu jitsu pace (relaxed, methodical) when she should be moving at the pace of a striker (darting in and out).
It never occurred to me to reverse that advice to apply it to me because I move at the wrong pace when I’m on the ground.
When I move too fast — when slower would work better — I miss opportunities to set up my attacks effectively.
Mindset for Solutions: Urgent vs Relaxed
This made me think of strengths and weaknesses. Sorting my work activities into distinct martial arts skill sets allowed me to see that I was missing my opportunities on the ground because I wasn’t taking advantage of the extra seconds available to make a good decision before I adjusted my position.
The ground game is designed to allow time to think and choose from a list of alternative reactions.
I looked back at my list of methodical activities and felt myself relax. Acknowledging and making myself aware of the need to choose the right pace, at the right time made me reconsider my willingness to indulge myself with being bored with certain tasks.
Respect the task at hand
By allowing myself the time and patience to work through the tasks at an appropriate pace, the tension and irritation lifted. Next step is to apply that same thinking when I’m waiting for someone else to complete methodical tasks requiring their time and attention.
Learning to Pace: In Praise of Slowness
“My wake-up call came when I found myself toying with the idea of buying a collection of One-Minute Bedtime Stories, Snow White in 60 seconds. Suddenly it hit me: my rushaholism has got so out of hand that I’m even willing to speed up those precious moments with my children at the end of the day. That’s why I began investigating the possibility of slowing down.” ~ Carl Honore, “In Praise of Slowness“
Slow down, you move too fast
“Infectious multitasking is on the increase. If you’re attempting to eat breakfast and floss at the same time, you could be in trouble…Studies have shown that rushing is a direct cause of rudeness, blunder, and mishap.” Slow Down Now
Questions for your consideration:
- How do you think about adjusting your pace as you move from activity to activity?
- Do you rush other people to meet your need for speed?
- When do you know and what do you do to match another person’s pace (slow down or speed up)?
- Do you think people should adjust to your pace? When and why?
- Where are you applying the wrong pace in your life?