Basic Problem Solving
A) Identify and Understand the Problem.
B) Look for Alternative Ways to Solve the Problem.
C) Study and Evaluate the Alternative Solutions.
D) Pick an Alternative Solution and Place it into Action.
E) Evaluate the Solution and Insure that it is Working.
Identify and Understand the Problem – Make sure you first know what the underlying problem is. Be careful of the symptoms of a problem that tend to be more easily recognizable. This step is critical to solving the problem. You might want to start the process by asking the question: What happens if I do nothing and what will be the result? This may help you to clarify the issue and give you a process to compare alternate solutions. Do not be afraid to ask others if they have had the same problem and how they solved it.
Look for Alternative Ways to Solve the Problem – Once you understand the problem begin by developing a list of alternative solutions. Think about every possible solution and write them down. This is an area where you want to be creative in your approach. Write down even those solutions that may seem unlikely or farfetched. If you are struggling to find alternatives take a break, go for a walk, clean your mind, and then come back to it later. You need to look at every alternative with an open mind and think out of the box.
Study and Evaluate the Alternative Solutions – Set up some criteria to evaluate each of the alternatives. Does it solve the problem, does it cost to much, how hard is it to implement, will I need help or can I do it alone? Place a value on each alternative and weigh the alternatives according to what you believe is the best possible solution.
Pick an Alternative Solution and Place it into Action – The easiest part of the process if you have carefully analyzed the problem and studied all alternatives. The solution is the very best alternative given your criteria. Not everyone will agree with your solution if they have not analyzed the alternatives as you have, so do not be surprised if others disagree with your solution. Put your favorite alternative solution into action.
Evaluate the Solution and Insure that it is Working – On a regular basis review your solution and evaluate the outcome. Did it solve the problem? Does it require adjustment? Utilizing this process helps you to discover smaller problems before they become much larger in nature. This is important, because it will give you even more confidence that you are making the right decisions and also will help you to improve your problem solving skills into the future.