What Is Solving Problems

What Is Solving Problems-28
In the same way that you can explore a problem laterally — such as by playing with words or challenging assumptions — you can also explore it at different “altitudes”.

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This quote does illustrate an important point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it.

Here are 10 strategies you can use to see problems from many different perspectives and master what is the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!

For example, suppose you’re about to enter the restaurant business.

One of your assumptions might be ‘restaurants have a menu’.

The good news is that getting different perspectives and angles in order to clearly define a problem is a skill that can be learned and developed.

As such, there are many strategies you can use to perfect it. When a Toyota executive asked employees to brainstorm “ways to increase their productivity”, all he got back were blank stares.

But go further and test each assumption for validity: think in ways that they might not be valid and their consequences.

What you will find may surprise you: that many of those bad assumptions are self-imposed — with just a bit of scrutiny you are able to safely drop them.

Play freely with the problem statement, rewording it several times.

For a methodic approach, take single words and substitute variations. Try replacing ‘increase’ with ‘attract’, ‘develop’, ‘extend’, ‘repeat’ and see how your perception of the problem changes.


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