Sometimes our thinking can be the biggest barrier when trying to solve our problems.
Problem – as a process
If you would look at the research of problem solution as at a process, you could distinguish 7 actions:
Recognize the problem
Even if this stage can look as self evident most often it is not very simple. Very often we are intended to deny problems. Also there can be some difficulties when trying to find out reasons and sources of the problem. When it happens we are not able to solve the problem or we try to solve it, but not effectively.
Define the problem
The problem has to be clearly formulated and defined after it is identified. Just then we can start to solve it.
Choose the strategy of solution
The other step – choose the right strategy of problem solution. It will depend on the situation and personal characteristics of person. (Below you can read about the strategies of problem solution).
We have to process the information before accepting the solution. What do we know or what we do not know about the problem? There will be a much better solution if we will get as much information as we can.
Distribute the resource
Not always we have enough funds and human resources to solve all the problems. Before starting to solve problems, we have to know our priorities, which problems are “burning” and which are just important. If a problem is very important and if it should be solved immediately, we can give much of resources to its solution, however, if a problem appears to be not very important you would probably do not waste your resources to its solution.
Observe the progress
People, who are effectively solving problems, observe their activity process and measure how they are good in reaching their goals. If the process does not satisfy, you can search for new strategies of problem solution.
Evaluate the results
When the problem is solved, it is important to evaluate if there was made the best solution. It can be done right away just checking if there are no mistakes in the solution. Also a process can be observed in some kind of period of time measuring if there was achieved a desired result.
We have recognized the problem, memorized it, found relevant information, identified different aspects, and finally named the problem. And what is next?
Strategies of problem solution
We can start applying:
This strategy is effective when there are just few different possible solutions. Clear steps are used, which leads to a right answer. But if you want to prepare this kind of strategy, you might need to spend much of your time. In comparison – conflict solution algorithm of chain of coffee house Starbucks and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) strategy that is used while bargaining with the kidnaper to release hostages.
Heuristics lets to solve problems very fast when invoking to your previous experience. If one or another way helped us in the past in a similar situation, we are able to find the solution very quick. Limitation of this strategy – we can “close ourselves in a box” and do not search for any alternatives. However, if a quick solution is needed or if there are too much of possible solution variants – this strategy can be the most suitable.
Mistake attempt method
We can find the answer just attempting and viewing if our made decision is the right one. We can apply this method when there are just few variants then false solutions would not make much damage.
Do you ever find a solution suddenly? It would look like an intellectual enlightenment came. This process happens unconsciously, although, our brain finds the solution, which was successful when solving other similar problems.
Appearing obstacles when solving problems
We know the process, solution strategies, but we do not know what we should avoid and what can hinder when we are successfully solving our problems.
When we fixate ourselves and start to think, that things have just one purpose. This phenomenon was noticed by a Gestalt psychologist Karl Duncker, who made an experiment known as “candle problem”.
Inappropriate or misleading information
When solving problems it is very important to separate appropriate and misleading information. Inappropriate data leads to an inappropriate solution. When the problem is especially difficult it is very easy to focus on misleading information, so it is very important to draw your attention to this aspect.
People tend to make all kinds of different assumptions about possible obstacles and difficulties when trying to solve problems, though these obstacles just exist in our thoughts.
When we think that there is just one right answer or solution. This attitude is related to heuristics and can be a fast way when solving problems; however, it also can cause some danger to close yourself for other ideas.