"We need to see a 5 per cent increase in sales this month," is a quantifiable goal, which is good. However, it's also deeply impersonal. Productivity blog 99u suggests that if you really want to reach this goal, you need to start with the people, not the problem.
Picture: University of Michigan/Flickr
Most problems we have to deal with tend to either involve or affect people, even if it's not directly. Sure, your company may have detailed charts, spreadsheets and analysis of sales projections, but underneath all of that data there are real, flesh and blood humans buying things off your shelves. If you want to get them to buy more, start by putting yourself in their shoes and figuring out what they want most:
Make the problem personal. How do you make a business problem personal? By getting down in the trenches and observing the individuals who are affected by the problem (and who would also be affected by your proposed solutions).
Not every problem can be handled this way, but many can. Whether it's finding a new job, getting into shape, or getting your kids to clean up, there's a human mind behind most of the things you want. Who is it you need to affect? What do they want? How can you improve the situation for them as well as yourself? If you can answer those questions, your ideas are likely to come out ahead of the curve.