Play devil’s advocate – take the exact opposite view of the one you have been holding.
If you are an optimist, think through the motivations of the pessimist.
Most of us tend to see situations through the flawed windows of our own nature. We are optimistic or pessimistic and do not really participate with others in understanding all aspects and connotations of a problem. Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats can help a group or even a person understand all aspects of a problem. Each of us wears each hat in turn or persuades others to wear them. I’d like to state here that, while thinking, one should remove all barriers and obstacles. Thinking is the easiest way of testing a solution. Thinking through all possibilities can prevent major financial distress. But most people are as careful and timid with their thinking as they are with their actions, thus losing the possibility of nurturing creative ideas.
People feel busy and productive when engaged in activity, but can be busy doing work which may be non-productive. In my view, thinking should be the major activity of managers and progress lies in constantly striving through innovation to delight the customer.