Life is full of problems. Health problems, work place problems, relationship problems. Just problems and problems everywhere.
I always thought that the approach to a relationship problem is different from a work place problem. And a work place problem is different from a puzzle.
But on a fine day, I realized that the approach to a business problem is same as the approach to personal problem. And this approach can be used on any type of problem.
Now let’s look at the steps involved:
Step 1: Define the problem
When you define a problem correctly, 90% of the problems will no longer be called as problems. That is the significance of this step.
So what is your problem now?
Let us take a personal problem – ‘Your partner is not talking with you’.
Now this is a vague statement. Let us go into details to understand the problem.
a) Answer ‘Why’, ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’, ‘How’ of the problem.
Because there was a miscommunication
I did not explain it clearly. He assumed the missing parts.
While we were getting ready for office
We had series of arguments
b) Why is it even a problem?
What is frequency at which it happens?
Once a week
How is it different from the other times?
Same as others
How is it different from the other problems?
c) What is the solution you are looking for the problem?
Is it reduced frequency?
Is it reduction in intensity?
Or any other solution you are looking for?
d) What can you do differently to bring in the change?
Is it the way you speak?
Is it the timing?
e) How does it affect your life?
High impact? Low or Medium?
The above sub questions are just for guidance. They might not apply in all cases. And in some cases all those questions will be useful but a few more questions might also be required.
In the above problem, whatever has been quoted as a problem is not really a big problem as the impact on life is low. And the action steps to be taken are also really simple. But if it is a health problem like cancer, the sub questions would have been like who is the right doctor to approach? Are you ready for Chemotherapy? – will come into picture.
Let’s take another example. You don’t know how to solve problems. What are the possible list of questions you will ask yourself?
Step 2: Factors which might be causing the problem
Every problem has a superficial factor and a deep factor. In the above case, superficial factor might be you not communicating it properly. But the deeper cause might be the stress your husband might be going through to reach office.
So list down all the possible factors.
Step 3: What are the possible solutions?
All the factors which you have mentioned may or may not be the actual reasons. Experiment. Test them out. Then look at the results with proofs.
In the above example, it might be you talking about the stress your husband might be going through at office. Or asking him what part of your communication skills does he expect you to improve?
Based on his answers, you will know what might be the solution and what is not the solution.
Step 4: What are the top 3 best solutions?
A solution becomes best when it can be implemented without much efforts.
You not talking about intense topics in the morning can be the best solution. Because it is totally under your control. Your husband reducing his stress at office and he trying to understand you better are also good solutions but they don’t come under the best because you can’t control your husband’s behavior.
Tips for solving problems:
Switch between focus and diffused modes:
Initially, focus on the problem. Understand the intricacies. Then, stop focusing on the problem. Make it run in the background. Solution comes to you when you expect it the least.
Keep looking for problems:
I was an avoider of problems all my life until recently. I missed out on a lot of learning because of that. If you want to learn faster, embrace every problem. Greater the number of problems you face, the quicker you can solve problems.
Solve a problem a day:
Do problem solving on a daily basis. It expands your mind.
Learn from how others solve their problems:
You might already know how to solve a problem. But there might be someone else who has a different way to do the same. Their way might be better or worse. Either way it is a learning.
Here is my list of questions.
Share with us your list of questions in comments section.
What are your problem solving techniques? Feel free to share with us in the comments.
Happy solving problems!