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A Systematic Approach to Solving Just About Any Problem

https://lifehacker.com/a-systematic-approach-to-solving-just-about-any-problem-5795228

lifehacker.com

A Systematic Approach to Solving Just About Any Problem
Problems can be difficult to solve when we only know the issue and none of the steps to fix it. Sometimes it's even more daunting to figure out what those steps are at all. This guide will help you take just about any problem and figure out a plan to solve it and stay motivated when handling long-term issues.

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Basic steps to solving any problem

Basic steps to solving any problem
  • Understand the Problem, so you know you're actually focusing on the the real issue at hand.
  • Create a Plan, so you have a series of actionable steps to follow.
  • Keep Yourself Motivated, so you don't give up or get frustrated when it takes a while to successfully resolve the problem.

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Understand the Problem

Understand the Problem

Often the most difficult step, because it's easy to focus on the wrong part of the problem, or look at the problem too broadly.

The first thing you need to do is reduce it to its simplest and purest form so you know exactly what you're dealing with. While you're doing this, you need to ask yourself questions to make sure you're focusing on the right things. 

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Create a Plan

Create a Plan

You need a plan with actionable steps. Ask yourself what's barring you from moving forward and make step one. Step one will open doors to other steps. 

Consider which steps will open more doors, add them to the plan, and keep doing that until you get to your solution. Things will change as you act on the plan and you'll need to adapt, so it's best to keep your plan somewhat open-ended and try to include steps that involve preparing for trouble you can foresee. 

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Keep Yourself Motivated

Keep Yourself Motivated

You not only need to make your plans flexible, but you want to try and plan for surprises as well. 

You won't always know what they are, but you can make educated guesses and be a little more prepared to deal with issues when they arise. This will help keep you motivated when solving problems that take more time, as these surprises won't be so devastating if you're ready for them. 

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Puzzles and Cognitive Abilities

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Math And Music

The ability to solve complex puzzles involves being able to process, match and synthesize a lot of different kinds of information at the same time.

Mathematics and Music are two areas that are different yet have connections in puzzle solving.

A Playful State of Mind

Paradoxically, the more you get inside a puzzle with seriousness and increased effort, the harder it becomes. Just like the losing chess player who is leaning too close to the board, solving puzzles is not about sheer effort, but a playful, relaxed state of mind.

Being able to be non-serious and enjoying the moment helps form the necessary connections that are hindered if the mind is in stress.

Describe, don’t define

Good problem-solving starts with an accurate description of the situation. Not with a definition.

If you start defining the problem (for e.g, calling it an “accounting problem” or a “m...

For a solid description of a situation

  • Get the story of the problem - a timeline with its evolution.
  • Make lists of what you know and what you need to investigate
  • Ask the journalist’s basic questions: who, what, when, where, and why.
  • Refine your answers by comparing the situation you don’t like to one that’s acceptable.

Optimal problem-solving meetings

  • Schedule them early, before people have used up their thinking and attention on less important things. 
  • Eliminate distractions: put laptops and phones on a table at the back.
  • For serious problems, do more than one meeting. Do some work on the situation, then let things rest. Some people may have ideas the interim that may prove helpful.

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Use the why lens

Great leaders only solve problems within their control. Ones connected to their biggest why. They ask:

  • Is this our problem?
  • Why should we solve this problem?
  • What ...

Problems as opportunities

Problems fuel great leaders, providing opportunities to learn and grow to the next level. 

The greater the problem, the hungrier they are for a solution. Leaders like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates view problems as golden opportunities to disrupt the market and revolutionize the customer experience.

Acknowledging the problem

Great leaders acknowledge there is a problem and demonstrate the severity of the problem and the benefit of the solution to stakeholders, partners, and shareholders. 

This way, the leader not only takes responsibility for making the problem transparent, but he or she also explores different dimensions of the problem, consequently benefiting from others’ ideas.