The Not Problem

This is an interesting creativity tool. It’s called the Not Problem.

The Process

Think of a problem you have.

For example: How to diet successfully.

Then ask yourself. What is NOT causing this problem?

Start broad and big:

For example: The current world political situation is NOT causing this problem. The weather in Africa is NOT causing this problem. The red squirrels on the Isle of Wight are NOT causing this problem.

Then home in on the problem:

My brother is NOT causing this problem (I hardly see him!).  The tidiness of my apartment is NOT causing this problem.


Look at these statements and look for connections. You might be suprised.

For example:

Actually, I notice that when I watch the awful situation in the world onTV it makes me feel low and then I snack. So many the world situation IS PARTLY CONNECTED to my problem. Solution: I am gonna cut down onwatching negative TV when dieting.


My brother used to eat a lot when we were kids. I remember him snacking and watching TV.  Did I pick up a bad habit as I used to copy everything he did?


I tend to raid the refridgerator when the place is a mess. I lose self-respect. Do I need to keep the place more tidy to give me a bit more of a positive feel?


I could learn from Africans and other people in the world who have little food. They get by and make best use of what they have. Perhaps I have become a little greedy and decadent. Perhaps I could donate some of the money I spend on food to charity.


The squirrels on the Isle of Wight have had a challenge to survive with the increase in tourism. Perhaps, living in a tourist town I get drawn into the “snack culture”. Perhaps I should restrict myself to healthy food and health food shops and cafes.


Often, the things we avoid thinking about, the NOT-problems are more connected to our problem and its solution than we care to admit.

Try it!

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