5 Step Plan for Effective Problem Solving
Problems are a part and parcel of the journey called life! Problems come up all the time in all of our lives, and we deal with them with the best of our problem solving skills that we possess.
Problems- Big and Small
What do you do when you have absolutely no idea about how to move forward in life? What do you do when you don’t know what to choose, between options that could make you either happy or miserable? Some decisions are big and powerful enough to alter your life forever.
And there are the simple decisions as well like deciding between brands of product to buy in a grocery store. Every question needs an answer. Like any other problem that has to be solved.
What is Problem Solving?
- Problem solving can be exciting and tricky at the same time.
- It is considered as the most complex of all intellectual functions.
- It is a cognitive process working at a higher level.
- Problem solving actually involves both regulation and control of basic, routine and fundamental skills.
Problem solving is not an impulsive act to find solutions, but a systematic process that entails different approaches. Your problem solving skills could be either innate or developed.
Are you a Problem-Solver?
Not everyone has the ability to thoroughly examine an existing problem when it’s facing them and staring them right in the eye. Some are able to rationalize and think evenly while others simply crack under pressure. So, how do you know that you have the problem solving skills that are required to handle this issue?
How to Solve a Problem?
There are series of steps that you can go through on your own when you need to meet a problem head-on. Even though problems come in myriads of shapes and sizes, the 5 problem-solving skills that I am going to discuss in this post today can be considered as the basic / fundamental approach to tackling any/ all kinds of problems that may come hurling your way.
You can’t solve anything if you don’t even know that there is an existing problem. When you finally recognize that there’s actually a problem, learn to look at it as an opportunity or a challenge. Pessimism is excluded in this method. Willingness to try and find a tangible solution and patience are keywords that you need to remember at this point!
5 Steps in Problem Solving
Step #1- List out Possible Solutions
For every problem, you must list out at least 2 solutions. This can be based on the obvious, like for example if your problem is a health disorder (high cholesterol) that has been recently diagnosed, then you can list out the obvious solutions to it like losing excessive weight, adopting a daily exercise schedule, cutting back on junk food, cigarettes and alcohol and modifying your diet to a more healthier one.
Similarly if your problem is lack of growth in your career, then you have possible solutions like learning a new skill, gaining a new qualification, change of job, overcoming your current inadequacies/ incompetency’s or even taking up a new career altogether.
Step #2- Choosing the Best One
This is the most crucial step in your problem solving procedure. You must concentrate on this step and be prepared to put in both time and thought in choosing the best of all the possible and available solutions.
You can use various criteria to select the best solution for your problem. For example, if your problem is lack of career growth, you will have to choose one of the many available options that seems to be most easily implementable and cost-effective, takes the least possible time to execute, is the most practical and so on.
Step #3-Chalk out a Clear Plan
Now that you have listed out more than one solution, consider what strategy to use to achieve your desired outcome. If it is losing weight, what strategy will you use to lose weight? If it is learning a new skill, then what skill are you going to learn, where will you be able to access the new training and so on.
What’s the use of planning if you’re not going to execute it? You now have a concrete solution to your problem, a clear strategy to follow and you only need to implement your plan of action.
Start DOING the weight loss exercises or enroll yourself for the new training and START learning.
Now comes the final step of your problem solving process. You will have to give this step some time, so that your implementation had adequate time for completion and follow up.
Therefore going back to our examples, let us consider that your primary problem was obesity / excessive body weight. You implemented a certain weight loss exercise/ diet program to lose weight. You have to give this process some time before you can evaluate if it worked by helping you lose any weight / not.
Similarly, if your example was skill learning, then you must wait until you complete the course before you can evaluate how useful it has been in developing your career.
Once the waiting period is over, evaluate the results with your original problem. Analyze up to what extent the implemented plan has helped in problem solving. If the results are good, then you have a winner. If the result is not your desired outcome, you can always try another approach until you achieve the outcome that you’re looking for.
Hint: This is the reason why I emphasized on Step #2, because if you choose the right alternative at this point, you can save yourself a lot of time, effort and money in the problem solving process.
The entire 5 step process may seem to be a bit daunting at first, but you definitely can emerge a winner if you can commit to it.