Flexible Thinking=Better Problem Solving

Earlier this week, I was faced with a problem I have never encountered before in my 30+ years as an attorney. After meeting with my client on Sunday night in my hotel room to prepare her for a 4 day hearing that was scheduled to start the next morning, I woke up to see an e-mail from the judge that she was sick with a high fever and could not preside over the hearing that day. She hoped we could start the next day.

Of course, I notified my client right away, and then proceeded to notify all our witnesses of the postponement. As it approached Noon, the judge notified us that she still had a high fever and was not sure if she could start on Tuesday. I asked her if she could let us know by 2 PM if we were going to start the hearing the next day, as after that time, I would have to pay for another night’s stay in the hotel. Shortly before 2:00, she notified us that she did not think she would be well enough to start the hearing the next day, and would notify us later whether or not we would start on what would have been the 3rd day of the originally scheduled hearing. I notified my client and the witnesses and returned home.

Just before Noon on Tuesday, the judge notified us that she was feeling better and believed that she could preside over the hearing on Wednesday. I informed her that I would check on my witness availability, and as it turned out, some of my witnesses were no longer available. By late afternoon, I informed her that I did not believe we could proceed in a fair and just manner to my client, given the unavailability of some of our witnesses and the judge agreed to postpone the hearing until later in the month. I am now working on rescheduling the witnesses for the new hearing dates.

While this story has its own unique elements, in truth, we all encounter unexpected changes in our personal and work lives periodically. Although it is certainly easier to live our lives in a routine manner without unexpected changes, frequently life simply does not work out so simply. In order to successfully solve problems that unexpected changes present, having a flexible mind leads to better problem solving, less panic, and ultimately better results.

The good news is that flexible thinking can be taught to parents and children. Flexibility exercises can help teach resilience.

The Sloan Center on Aging and Work produced an excellent paper that demonstrates how flexible thinking and flexible options improve workplace engagement and thereby produce better results for employees and businesses. The authors studied workplaces in 4 developed market economies, including the United States, and 6 emerging market economies, and among other things found that,

Employees’ assessments of their own flexible thinking, supervisors’ flexible thinking, and access to flexible options were all positively related to work engagement and organizational commitment.

Ultimately, many situations require thinking outside of the box.

outside the boxHaving a flexible mind allows for such outside the box thinking and can solve problems leading to personal, professional and systems change.


For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.


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