If you have ever watched the Bourne series of movies you will find a very valuable lesson in his thinking. Every time Jason Bourne is faced with an obstacle, he doesn’t waste time on the problem. He automatically scans his environment for “an opening” or an immediate action he can take to move him past the obstruction so he can reach his outcome.
When you are faced with your next business problem or obstacle, you can think like Jason Bourne.
1. Know your outcome. In the Bourne Supremacy, there is a scene where the CIA is discussing how Bourne and other operatives like him think. One of his handlers explains they “They don’t do random. There is always an objective. Always a target”. When faced with a business problem, see the problem for what it is and then shift your focus by asking…
- What is my outcome or target?
- What is the objective I need to accomplish to reach my outcome or solve this problem?
2. Scan you’re situation or environment. Bourne’s uncanny ability to spot anomalies or to perceive potential trouble is because he maintains a high level of awareness about his immediate surroundings. In his first movie, the Bourne Identity he is sitting in a café with an asset and tells her “I come in here, and the first thing I am doing is catching the sightlines and looking for an exit . . . I can tell you the license plates of all 6 cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed & the guy sitting up at the counter weighs 215 pounds & knows how to handle himself… If you are going to solve the problem, you must be aware of what is surrounding the problem because you need information and insight so you can make a decision. Now ask
- What is happening with the issue right now?
- What is not happening?
3. Decide and Act. Bourne is very adept in both strategic and tactical improvisation. The latter shows up in the Bourne Supremacy while apprehended by Italian police in Naples. Bourne recognized that neither the officer posted at the door nor the Jr CIA guy who came in to interrogate him perceived him as a threat. When the agent was distracted by a phone call from his superior, Bourne neutralized them both, conducts a quick switch of the phone’s memory (providing valuable intelligence) and then escapes from custody. Your turn… So you know your outcome; you know your situation now ask
- What can I do to influence the situation right now?
- How can I mitigate or eliminate the problem?
- What action can I take to move towards a solution?
Keep cycling through these questions until you find “an opening” or determine an immediate action you can take. Depending on the problem you may have to make multiple moves or take more than one action to move past the obstruction and reach your outcome.
If you have seen the Bourne movies, watch them again. If you haven’t seen the movie, you definitely want to watch it with this post in mind. You will notice how quickly Bourne sees possibilities and takes action even in the face of extreme adversity. The next time you have a business problem, think like Jason Bourne.