When dealing with problem solving my favorite saying is that “perceptions is 9/10ths of the law.” This is where application of analytical thinking is essential. Understand all the variables and complexities of the situation and keep your mind flexible. Expand the possibilities and don’t jump to conclusions.
Here are the three steps to solving problems. First, clearly identify the problem. From this point, clarify the problem, and then find the cause. The process of thinking or solving a problem only happens after you have captured and fully understand the problem. The biggest hurdle in solving problems is thinking you know everything and that nothing needs to be changed.
Since “perception is 9/10ths of the law,” there is a tendency to base decisions and actions on what is perceived to be true. The key to diagnosing problems is separating what is true from what seems to be true. Don’t jump to conclusions.
Learn to think in and out of the box and master the obvious. Look for potential mental blind spots and avoid them. Sort out the facts, avoid ambiguous and vague descriptions and don’t act on assumptions.
Problem solving is a diagnostic progression of determining:
- And how?
Problems need to be captured, then developed, examined, and given a shape. Try to understand the magnitude of what you don’t know. The current reality of the situation is easy to miss, avoid, or ignore.
A key step in solving problems is carefully examining the details and writing them down. This helps to make uncertainty become clearer. The written word creates conciseness and accuracy and provides a better understanding of the problem.
This process helps to clarify what you know, what you don’t know, and what you are trying to find out. It aids in separating problems from general situations so you can better understand the nature and scope of the real problem.
This clarification lets you evaluate the size and gravity of a problem and puts you on a fast track toward finding a solution. From this point, you can address increasing productivity, improving quality, doing things faster, and reducing costs.
After you have ideas for improvement, the next step is implementing them. Go listen to the solving problems podcast.