When problems get you stuck: Stay F.O.C.U.S.E.D.

Research output: Authored / edited bookResearch book or monograph (as author)Academic researchpeer-review


Brief background / context for the proposed book:
The world as we have always known it – so obvious and still struggling. Indeed our world is in a constant and dynamic state of flux. It is fast-paced, turbulent, conflicting, paradoxical, highly competitive, non-routine, ill-defined, unstructured and complicated; much of which is unanticipated. We do indeed live in a VUCA world plagued with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – and we still continue to struggle to make sense of it all. All this challenges our current taken-for-granted assumptions, often leading to revisions and redefinitions that blur conventional boundaries of understanding. Heraclitus (the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher) famously reminded us about the world and about ourselves in that, “All is flux. Nothing is stationary; everything gives way and nothing is fixed. No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.” Since this is and has always been the case, why is it that we continue to be surprised by such change? Why do we still struggle with the obvious? Surely this is the fundamental psychological problem of man!

Why is it important?
Most of our toughest problems remain unsolved because we end up resorting to our past habitual attempts without being open to “otherness”: other forms of reasoning, other forms of logics, other forms of explanations and to other ways of knowing. The paradox is that as more of our lives become interconnected and conventional boundaries blur between work/life, external/internal, functional roles/corporate roles, competitors/allies, employees/customers, past/present/future, an explosion of new problems, issues and challenges (e)merge all around us. Yet we are not fully equipped to deal with them due to our “overlearned incapacities”. Most of us have been trained to deal with routine, structured and clearly defined problems. Yet, ironically the majority of the problems we continue to face are far from neat and tidy. Employers will pay top dollar for great problem solvers (at all levels). Even more at a premium are those who can help us see things differently, so that we can see different things in opening up the alternatives to the human condition.
The core of this proposed book presents a new strategic thinking framework called “staying F.O.C.U.S.E.D.” designed to guide readers through the thinking process needed to help open up the alternatives when faced with complex unsolved problems, issues and challenges. The framework is based on over 10-years of practice in the field with students and practitioners (senior executives and boards of directors) and grounded on scientific research from clinical psychology, social psychology, cognitive science, behavioral decision theory, experimental psychology and more broadly from the organizational sciences. The framework is not just about problem solving but also problem-setting. It is more than just a thinking tool, but very much about your thinking, feeling and acting. It is not just a learning tool, but about unlearning. And it is not just about creativity but a tool designed to open you to “otherness”. By staying FOCUSED in the face of the unknown, the unfamiliar, rare and novel events and situations, you will learn BETTER, learn FASTER and learn MORE than you are currently used to.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPenguin Random House
Number of pages200
Publication statusIn preparation - Jun 2021


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