How to Be A Better Problem Solver

How to Be A Better Problem Solver
We have all faced many problems in our professional and personal lives that have appeared to be insurmountable. Decision making and problem solving are core skills that are needed in any profession. If you watch any show on TV, the actors are extremely resourceful in solving all of their problems within the hour allotted for the program. While we understand that television problem solving is very different from real life, it is not impossible to be skillful. Here are five tips on how to become a more resourceful problem solver.

Tip 1 - Own the problem.
To often workers are too afraid to own the problem. Fear of failure or repercussions get in the way of showing excellent problem solving abilities. Learn to accept the problem, research it thoroughly and develop a plan of action. Owning the problem keeps the process from becoming part of a “blame game”.

Tip 2 - Give the problem parameters.
Before you can effectively solve the problem, you need to evaluate and understand its actual scope. Often times people will underestimate or overestimate the size of the problem. Underestimating will result in the problem not getting fixed or cause the problem to reoccur. Overestimating the problem will result in pouring in time and resources that would be of better use elsewhere. It’s important not to focus solely on certain symptoms, dig deep to find the root cause.

Tip 3 - Don’t solve the problem by jumping to the fastest solution.
Don’t immediately suggest a solution without first digging for a root cause. It’s very easy to jump to the first viable answer that comes to mind, even if it does not address all aspects of the situation. After researching the problem, develop various scenarios on how the problem could possibly be resolved. Trying to solve the problem to quickly can result in identifying the wrong answer.

Tip 4 - Consider bold solutions.
What if there were no limits on resources? While that is often not the case, considering big bold solutions as if there were no resources can often lead to answers within the actual boundaries. The solution should not be over the top outrageous, but relevant and attainable. You never know what senior management may approve when funding or instituting an innovative solution to a well identified problem.

Tip 5 - Do not second guess your action plan.
If you have come up with a myriad of solutions and determined the solution that best solves the problem, move forward with implementation. Follow up during all phases to make sure that the solution is continuing along as planned. If you begin to second guess your final plan of action, you run the risk of undermining your plan.

There are stark differences between those that are great problem solvers and those that are not. A great problem solver is persistent in identifying a problem’s root causes and brainstorming on possible solutions. They are also very optimistic that they can solve a problem regardless of the difficulty. By following these tips, you will increase your career success by becoming an effective problem solver.

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