Day 4 of my guest blog series on WIRED Magazine’s Change Accelerators Blog sponsored by BMW.

iStock I want you to do an exercise with me. Close your eyes to the distractions around you and ask yourself, “In my work, what is the biggest problem I’m facing right now?” and don’t open them again till you have your answer.

There. Got it? Okay, here’s the exercise: with that big problem firmly in mind, I want you to take that problem…and skip it.

Don’t bother trying to solve it. It’s not your real problem anyway. And even if it was, it’s not anymore.

Yesterday I mentioned HP’s failed TouchPad, and how it was a shining example of a company being willing to fail fast. It’s also an excellent example of this exercise. The TouchPad was a big problem. A billion-dollar problem. HP expected it to be a hit—it could do multi-tasking (Apple’s iPad couldn’t) and had all kinds of features from its Palm OS that had been a hit on the Palm Pre. But it flopped.

Big problem. HP didn’t even try to solve it. Instead, they skipped it.

This is a strategy I use with clients constantly, and it gets powerful results. It’s not a philosophy of denial, avoidance, or procrastination. Skipping your biggest problem means stepping outside the flat plane of the existing situation and gaining a clearer perspective, which often triggers flash foresights that lead to new opportunities far bigger and more productive than you could have imagined based on the original (incorrect) problem you were trying to solve.

Skipping the problem gives you permission to escape the prevailing paradigm, which typically includes existing tools, systems, and processes that may be dragging you down.

Often, it’s the curse of the legacy system: it works too well to throw it away, but not well enough to move you forward. It is an anchor, holding you back as you strive to push your way into the 21st century.

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