What is an AHA moment?

Written by GaintheLead

May 11, 2021

What is an AHA moment?

Undoubtedly, we have all had them that moment of extraordinary clarity in which the solution to a difficult problem suddenly seems to just pop out of nowhere, moments where things seemingly align, click, fall into place and help us make sense of an otherwise confusing or complex situation. We get a flash of insight and it feels good. The so-called AHA moment.

What are they and how can we get them more often? Today we will talk about an “AHA moments”

What is an AHA moment from the perspective of psychology?

Well, a famous psychologist, William James, made a definition for affirmance, he says it’s when a new combination happens in the brain. It’s a subconscious process where the brain combines new knowledge with previous experience, information that so far was not really linked in the subconscious brings it together. And all of a sudden a new solution arises for a problem that we have attacked.

Now, knowing this, means that we can use that normal brain process to drive more AHA moments in business. It means that if we want breakthroughs, we want AHA moments. We want intuitive new ideas to solve the challenges at hand. And what we need to do is build an environment for us and our employees in which combining past previous new experience, knowledge and information becomes possible.

It’s nothing we can force and we can’t just look at information. Expect our brain to instantly produce an AHA moment. It’s a process over time, however, it produces fantastic ideas.

Four key success factors to generate more aha moments for yourself and with your team.

Number one: facilitate workshops where different perspectives to a problem are looked at.

Discuss different perspectives, look at a challenge from different ways, let each person put an extra hat on their heads and describe a challenge from a customer perspective, the business perspective, a CEO perspective, someone that has never seen the challenge before. Combine that with extra sources of information, watch YouTube videos and let other people talk about it, read articles without expecting to really solve the problem right now. Just provide the brain with multiple sources of information that then in the subconscious automatically connects the dots. 

Number two: AHA Moments don’t happen while looking at the material.

In many cases they happen in the shower, on a walk – when our brain is wandering off thinking about other things. So please don’t expect to have much to happen in a one hour workshop. Expect the workshop to be input and then let your and your employees brains wander over a day, maybe two, and ask your employees when they get ideas like spikes of intuition and AHA moments to write them down. Then later on that day, the next day, bring people back together, reflect on the AHA moments and look at everyone’s new ideas as potential to spur new ones. 

Number three: calmness and no pressure.

We especially look at change processes at Gain the Lead, which means people are init. They are naturally going to be in a state of uncertainty if things aren’t clear. And that leads to stress and it leads to fight and flight in our brains. In this state our brain is nearly incapable of connecting information together and producing outcomes. So we need to generate an area of calmness and take away the stress of change. How can we do that? Well, gaining an overview is a very good way, writing down all of the different challenges and steps that will be needed to take care of a change process, putting them on a physical board, breaking things down into smaller pieces. Just looking at the smaller pieces all of a sudden turns a mountain into multiple molehills that’s much easier for our brain to work with.

Number four: regularity.

A very simple way to do that is just put on sticky notes everywhere with the question that you would like to have answered. How can we improve the customer experience? What can we do to solve challenge? Phrase it as a question, put it on a sticky note and stick it somewhere where you will regularly see it. That will continuously trigger your subconscious mind to go looking for what information knowledge it can combine. And this will drive the AHA moment process in the subconscious mind.

Number five: write them down. 

Just like dreams that we often forget when we wake up, we can also quickly forget our AHA moments. So write them down.

Let’s summarize five key elements you can utilize to generate more AHA moments and better solutions in your team’s:

  1. Different perspectives and different sources of information and providing an environment where that can be absorbed.
  2. Ensure there are breaks in your thinking process and breaks lead to the mind drifting and can come up with better ideas.
  3. Calmness removes the fights and flight, bring people into a more calm, relaxed and creative mindsets.
  4. Make sure that your brain is triggered to think about the challenge and the problem by phrasing answers and putting them on sticky notes.
  5. Write down the AHA moments when them come unexpectedly.

Now, let’s discuss the short example from the real world.

Once I was working very closely with a customer. And he wanted to run a properly-managed change program for his sales department. The struggle was to get the board to sign off on the budget for the project. We made a wonderful ROI calculation showing the potential savings of running the change program professionally. But it just was not convincing them.

While discussing it and thinking about it, an AHA moment happened.

We realized that there was very little interest from the board because the sum of money that would be saved was going to be spent anyway. That quickly got combined with another piece of information that the main focus for the year was speeding up the delivery process. We then calculated how many projects would be able to be delivered quicker and on time thanks to the change management program. And that was the convincing argument that did work out. The way we got to that was just looking at the different factors until intuition inspired a new solution.

So how do we, in Gain the Lead, help clients generate more AHA moments? We focus intensively on building an environment where people can absorb different sources of information, can break big challenges down into small ones and look at them from different perspectives. 

This article is part of the #GTLpodcast series where we discuss all sorts of topics to help you be a succesful leader in the FinTech & Payment industries.

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