Ostium – The opposite of a problem. (Episode 190)

This text is inspired by the latest episode of my series ‘The Creativity Suite’.
Creative development can be cut down to the simple phrase of “keep the good, and get rid of the bad”.
As in: keep doing what works, and change that which is not working.
It’s a simple formula, yet so many people fail to follow it.
One reason why people fail might be that we do not have a word for the opposite of a problem.
We are generally good at identifying problems. People find problems everywhere, and if we are creative we not only identify that which is not working, but we will also come up with a solution for how to solve it.
The word “problem” comes from the Greek “problēma” meaning “a task, that which is proposed, a question;” but it also meant “fence, barrier”. A problem is, basically, a barrier to be overcome.
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If a problem is to find a solution around something that is stopping us – ie something that is not working that needs to be fixed, then an “Ostium” is something that is working and that we should keep and develop.
Ostium is Latin for door.
When we identify what is not working, we have defined a problem. A barrier that is stopping us from achieving our goals.
When we identify what is working, we have defined an ostium. A door that is taking us to our goals.
While it’s crucial to identify problems, it is equally crucial to identify ostiums – things that are working well and that should be expanded, extended, continued and developed.
And if we do not even have a word for talking about the things that are working then it becomes harder to think about how to best develop the things that work.
What are the ostiums in your life? What are the good things that you should keep doing and expanding on?
This text was inspired by an interview with Benedicte Flamand, Director Global Marketing, Communication, Digital CX, Sustainability & Sales Excellence in Denmark for Schneider Electric. Benedicte shared with me how, in her 20+ years as a leader in companies like Schneider Electric and Nestlé, she had learned to get rid of bad habits she had as a leader (thinking too much about what others thought about her, for example), while at the same time developing the leadership strengths that worked for her (such as having a very human leadership style).
Benedicte shared how she, of course, has a lot of challenges in her job, but how she also identifies things that are working well. She gave an example of how she had this one person reporting to her who is full of energy, creativity and drive. Her ostium became: “How do I develop this person’s skills further and how do I find people similar to him to hire?”
Would love to know your thoughts – post your comment on LinkedIn.
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