Last week I and 23 others made a pilgrimage to Albuquerque to participate in the Problem Solving Leadership workshop.

What did we do all week?

Mainly exercises, discussion, and reflection on designing problems to be solved, environments in which to solve them, and ourselves.

Can I say more about any of that? No, I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s fun.

What did I learn about designing problems and problem-solving environments?

Maybe nothing, maybe lots. Not sure yet. Maybe I’ll notice over time, as I’m facing various challenges, that I seem to keep having better ideas about how to approach them. One idea I’ve had before that occurred to me again:

Observation from exercise retro: we always work in iterations, whether we choose them or not.

Another: for the entirety of the workshop, Esther and Jerry modeled changing focus rapidly between the problem, how we’re solving the problem, and how we’re arranging ourselves to solve the problem. I value this kind of self-correcting thought process very highly, and it was an unusual chance for me to observe it in others (and not only our facilitators) for an extended period.

What did I learn about myself?

Self-observation: few things are more exhausting to me than seeing someone treated unkindly.

Conversely, others can tell that I make efforts to be kind.

Observer feedback: I’m like a lone hiker. I go off on my own, be creative, and am accepted back because I bring something valuable.

I found the metaphor striking and the explanation somewhat surprising, considering:

Self-observation: I’m more energized by being part of a conspiracy than by being a lone conspirator.

But there’s never been any question where I get my energy. Further proof:

Coffee + cool, dark, quiet time + reflection = second wind. Classic introvert.

What will I remember?

Getting to know some nice people with fast brains.

Acting as emergency backup consultant during lunch so Jerry could eat too.

Feeling validated when my approach to consulting was apparently (1) not entirely unlike his and (2) helpful.

Sitting quietly with Jerry for a few minutes, sharing something very dear to me, and appreciating his appreciation.

Should you attend PSL?

That depends. Are you as capable as you’d like to be at creating an environment that enables everyone to contribute productively to solving problems?