Effective Problem Solving and Decision-Making

December 13th, 2019

Solving problems and making decisions go hand in hand. Here’s some tips on how to do a better job of defining problems and how to make good decisions on effective solutions. First, let’s address problem solving.

Here are the three steps to solving problems. First, clearly identify the problem. Second, 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’s perceived to be true. The key to diagnosing problems is separating truth from what seems to be true. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Learn to think 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.

Here’s a diagnostic approach to dealing with problems:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?
  6. And how?

Other steps should include this five-step process:

  1. Define the problem.
  2. Clarify your objectives.
  3. Develop creative alternatives.
  4. Consider the consequences.
  5. Analyze the trade-offs.

Defining the parameters of a problem is essential. Dig into the issues and make sure that you’re focusing on the right things. Be flexible and evaluate all the parameters and be willing to shift based on changing circumstances.

Problems need to be captured, developed, examined, and then 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 clarify uncertainty. Writing down the problem creates conciseness, accuracy, and gives you a better understanding of the problem.

Following this process helps clarify what you know, what you don’t know, and what you are trying to find out. It helps you separate problems from the details so you can better understand the nature and scope of the real problem.

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.

The next and most important step in the process is taking action to implement the solutions. Don’t procrastinate! Just act and implement the solution. Just think about how much time is wasted by thinking and talking about what we are going to do. Just doing it saves a lot of time and produces more results.


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