Do you practice “Bright Spot” problem solving?

The Heath brothers’ new book Switch is a nice follow-on from their first book Made to Stick. Kaplan folks may remember Dan Heath’s talk at last year’s faculty virtual conference (KU Village 2009.) I am currently reading both, and I like them.

The Heaths’ framework is simple and perhaps profound. In order to bring about change (personally, organizationally or societally), you have to affect three things.

1. The Driver. (The planner. The thinker.)
2. The Elephant (The emotions.)
3. The Path (The environment where change is going to happen.)

The take-away for me so far is a concept called “bright spot” thinking. Wrapped around some interesting research in psychology and real-world case studies, the idea basically boils down to this: when trying to solve problems, look for things that are going well (or exceptions to the problem or the problematic trend.) Analysis of root causes sometimes can cause analysis-paralysis because even though the information is true it may also be useless practically. (TBU = True but useless.)


3 responses to “Do you practice “Bright Spot” problem solving?

  1. Karrie Higgins

    I had my students use “bright spot” thinking in their peer reviews for a rough draft last week. Instead of simply pointing out, say, run-on sentences, they pointed out where sentences were clear & correct, and how to use those as models for elsewhere in the essay (or paragraph structures, etc.) They loved the idea, and participation increased by a phenomenal degree.

    Of course, I have always encouraged them to post positive comments along with critiques, but doing it this way just “clicked” with them and helped them embrace the entire task. I think it was because the “bright spots” were solutions, not just compliments.

    I have big plans for using this next term, too!

    In fact, I have been using several concepts from this book, in conjunction with some other books I have read (Nurture Shock and Mindset), and I have seen some dramatic turnarounds in the classroom. Good stuff.

  2. Dawn Giannoni

    Hi Will and IL Bloggers!

    I have to comment to this entry. The “Made to Stick” book was great and so I am definitely going to order their new book “Switch”. I followed the “Switch” link Will included, on to Amazon, and as you scroll down on that page you will find a delightful video interview with the authors overviewing the book and a wonderful explanation about the elephant principle they speak of–well worth your time. Enjoy!!

  3. Karrie Higgins

    Thanks, Dawn!

    There is also an excerpt of the book at the Fast Company website right now (and a different excerpt on Chip & Dan Heath’s website, too).

    It is a an amazing book! I am taking so much from it in how I approach next term (and even the end of this term). 🙂

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