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“You can increase your problem-solving skills by honing your question-asking ability.”
Life offers us an unlimited number of ways to play, and our motive is to solve the inevitable obstacles and challenges which come at us, as with everyone else.
Just like chess, one has to see patterns, use logic, be systematic, fail, learn and keep moving.
A doctor listens to you and checks your body for symptoms, studying the problem and prodding you, investigating every element and source for any information or clue.
The same approach that is used by doctors and investigators has to be applied to find answers to the big and small problems of life.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”
Instead of rushing towards a solution, we need time to comprehend the problem, how it started, what is the root cause, and what is the actual effect. Redefine the problem until you find the hidden one.
Write down the process if possible, asking questions like what pattern is being noticed, the recurring factor, the initial time it happened among other questions. We need to find good analogies and connect the dots to get to the real answers.
If we break down our problem, it is half-solved already. A decision tree is a great tool to create a model of decisions with their consequences. It helps see the problem along with the larger picture, making new connections that move towards a solution.
Take down everything apart, analysing the cause and then finally executing the best plan.
A problem can be approached creatively and with an open mind, resulting in many different scenarios and solutions put on the table. Thinking outside the box broadens the areas from which a solution can arise.
We need to erase the boundaries, the assumptions and take everything apart, starting from the first principle.
Thinking hard doesn’t mean you will get a great solution. One might need to step away from the problem and do something else for a while. The brain continues to work in the background and an innovative solution may be unearthed by spending time on something unrelated. The solution can be trusted in most cases.
This incubation period provides us with a fresh spark of genius, as our brain gets a break from the task in focus. While just ten minutes could be enough, it works great if we sleep on the problem, giving the brain ample time.
Sometimes we may need to undo or rewind key actions and move from the end of the process towards the start. This reverse engineering makes the brain see patterns and details left unnoticed earlier.
It works when the initial portion of the problem is opaque.
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