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Problem Solving Exercise: If Time Was Not an Issue

Problem Solving Exercise: If Time Was Not an Issue


When solving problems, it is sometimes easy to dismiss new ideas straight away by worrying about lack of resources or lack of time. A new idea is usually very fragile and cannot stand much scrutiny. Thinking of limitations can seriously stop you from coming up with novel ideas as you may kill them off before they have a chance to prosper.

To avoid this, a useful technique is to artificially eliminate these resource limitations and instead freely think about the long-term benefits of a given idea.


Solve a problem while removing resource limitations. What would an idea lead to if you had plenty of time to consider it and progress it forward?


  • Divide the delegates to groups of 3.
  • Ask each group to consider a problem that they can all contribute to.
  • Allocate 5 minutes for this part.
  • Ask the groups to brainstorm on the problem by coming up with ideas. However, they should assume that they have no time limitation. Ask them to imagine they have 100 years in front of them and if they fail they can easily start over again. There is no time pressure as they have plenty of time to work out any issues. Ask them to consider the following questions:
    • How would you approach a given problem?
    • How would you schedule your work?
    • How do you prioritise considering that you have almost unlimited amount of time?
    • Does this lead to fundamental changes in the way the company is run?
    • Does this change the way you look at the goals?
  • Allocate 15 minutes for this brainstorming session.
  • Follow with a discussion on the effectiveness of this technique.


Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes

Activity: 5 min selecting the problem + 15 min brainstorming = 20 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


How did this long-term mentality help you approach a given problem? Does long-term thinking help you avoid short-term solutions which are usually driven by resource limitations? What are the long-term benefits of this kind of approach as opposed to short-termism?