Problem-solving is a fundamental part of society. Without it, nothing would get done. As easy as it may be to just throw in the towel and do something else when a difficult situation arises, that is not something employers wish to see in employees or possible ones. Being a good problem solver is a major advantage, and not just in the line of work. Have you ever encountered a problem at home, or even at a relative or friend’s house? Knowing how to navigate those complex interactions is a skill that we all must master.
If you find yourself struggling to solve problems and want to better yourself, here are 5 tips to help you improve yourself:
1. Identify the problem.
This may sound simple, but it can be a complex issue to identify what it is that is causing a problem. By knowing what the problem is, you’ll know what it is you’re trying to solve. For example, let’s say you have a door that’s broken; that itself is the problem. What you’re trying to solve is how this could have potentially been avoided.
The key thing you’ll need to do is review the situation and closely inspect all the variables involved. Once you have done this, you’ll then need to ask why the situation happened. However, don’t do this just once; ask it five times. Going back to the example of the door, you’d probably be asking:
- Why didn’t I oil it?
- Why didn’t I fix the lock?
- Why didn’t I replace the handle/door knob when I knew it felt loose?
- Why didn’t I replace the window on it?
- Why didn’t I buy a door that was of a better condition?
By finding the cause of the problem, it will make it easier to determine what went wrong and how a repeated incident can be avoided.
2. Find obstacles.
Now, you’re probably thinking “but I already am experiencing an obstacle”. As true as that may be, the answer to the problem you are trying to fix could have consequences in return. This can go 2 possible ways: the solution is the only one and will lead to another problem that requires solving afterwards, or there are multiple solutions, which will either have little to no repercussions or repercussions that will be considerable in size.
That’s what you’re after, after all. Referring back to the two consequences in the previous point, the latter is the one where you need to think clearly, analysing your options, and make a decision if there are going to be ramifications.
It’s important that you do indeed have more than one solution so, if one doesn’t work, you’ll have another to try. Always have an alternative. Another important thing that you must do is to take notes regarding the successes of your solutions; how successful were they? Were they not successful at all? Why was this? What could you do next time if you wish to try that method again?
Remember – focus on the solution, not the problem. Research has shown that you’ll have difficulty coming up with a solution if you focus too much on the problem itself. The problem will be a distraction.
4. Be creative.
Think outside of the box. Don’t limit yourself to what you already have at your disposal. Go that little bit extra. Don’t have that particular tool or item that can help resolve the problem in your possession? Buy it or, even better, find an alternate cheaper (or free) solution. Be resourceful with what you already have; repurpose that particular item for something else or give it a dual role. Creativity, let alone thinking outside of the box, will give you a new approach to solving problems entirely that will come in handy now and in the future.
5. Keep it simple.
It can be very easy to come up with complex answers to a problem, clearly because you’re looking very closely into the situation itself. You may be deconstructing it to the smallest detail or even reverse engineering the problem itself to see how it came about. While there is nothing wrong with using reverse engineering to fix your problems, it’s important to focus on keeping the solution simple.
By keeping things simple, it means your solution will be easier to follow through and to understand. You must take on board that the definition of ‘simple’ varies from person to person, so what might be straightforward for you might not be for another person. Instead of saying “you’ll need to do this and this, but then follow it up with this, that, and the other”, you should rather have an approach that’s more like “all you have to do is this.” Notice how subtle the difference is? If anything, an overly complex solution might mean it’ll take longer to apply it to the problem in the first place!
Problem solving is certainly something we can’t live without. These five tips are just some of the ways you can improve your own problem-solving skills and abilities. If these weren’t enough, or you just want to know more, contact Ceed today.