In reality problem solving is an incredibly empowering skill to learn with far reaching benefits that will last a lifetime. Here are just some of the truisms I’ve learnt along the way about problem solving which will serve to encourage you in your journey towards mastering problem solving:
Any solution that works is correct
There may be several attractive solutions to choose from. In truth any one of them that works is a ‘correct’ solution.
Masterful problem solvers learn from others
Anyone can learn problem solving techniques, what makes masters masterful is by learning first hand from others experiences of their own problem solving endeavours.
Masterful problem solvers become masterful by gaining experience in solving problems
By the same token problem solvers become true masters by gaining experience in solving problems, honing their skills and learning what does and doesn’t work for them.
Some problems have many solutions, no specific solution (Hint: this is where lateral thinking becomes involved) or more information is needed
More often than not there are several viable solutions. Usually if no solutions seem apparent more information is needed to better understand a desired outcome and ergo a preferable solution. Occasionally there is no specific solution and this is when lateral thinking may become involved.
For example, if I’m trying to problem solve which Spanish beach all-inclusive holiday to go on and they are all booked up, I might consider a different location, a non all inclusive holiday (once I’ve decided on a comparative budget) or even somewhere other than by a beach in Spain, such as a city break.
Masterful problem solvers take risks
Masterful problem solvers tend to take calculated risks. Although they ask the right questions, gather all of the necessary information and have a back up plan there is never any guarantee that their chosen solution will work as expected. Masterful problem solvers know this however chose to take these risks because of the potential advantages, realizing that the all important back up plan may have to be used.
Do you hold these truths about problem solving? How confident are you at asking questions about the nature of a problem if that was what was needed to find more effective solutions? Have you ever learnt problem solving strategies by watching how others problem solve? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.