How to become a problem solver

Problem solving and decision making go hand-in-hand with the work environment. It doesn’t matter what industry or niche you’re in, how many clients you have or how much money you are earning, you WILL need to solve problems at one stage or another whether they’re your own problems or those of your clients.

So how can you become a better problem solver?

#1: Gain clarity on the problem

The first step is to actually get clear on what the problem is. It’s all too easy to start a snowball effect on problems (I’ve had this problem, then this one and this one why should I bother?) or to globalise the issue (I’ll NEVER understand this, I ALWAYS run into problems, this is too hard etc.) stop! Just get clear on what THIS problem is. Make sure you’ve narrowed it right down and are dealing with the root problem, not just the side effects.

#2: Does it actually need solving?

Some problems aren’t actually a problem for US, we just perceive them that way. For example, procrastination is a popular problem but, in reality we may need it to give us the required motivation to reach a deadline so it could just be what works best for us. We could spend even more time trying to solve it, but do we really need to focus more on it, or just go with it instead? (Hint – do you always reach that deadline on time anyway?)

#3: Keep an open mind

Sit down and brainstorm the different solutions and options available to you without cross-examining them. Only once you have brainstormed can you then look at the options, in further detail, and see how feasible they are.

checklist problems and solutions

#4: Have reasonable expectations

Sometimes there WILL be things that hold you back from your ideal solution  such as a limit in your finances or the available man hours and/or skills. Be aware of these and take them into account and, if necessary, find another solution or an agreeable middle ground.

#5: Plan how to implement the solution

Before you rush in with your solution, take the time to plan out how you are going to implement it. Look for potential problems (and subsequent solutions) prior to getting started.

#6: Act on it

Part of being a great problem solver is knowing when to act on the solution you have. You could keep planning, brainstorming and tweaking for ages, but sometimes you just have to get started and put in the action needed to implement the solution!

#7: Know you don’t have to be right

Finally, you need to remind yourself that YOU don’t have to be right you just need a right solution. It doesn’t matter who came up with the solution or how it came about, it just has to be the answer to your problem.

Do you consider yourself a good problem solver? What traits and steps do you feel are needed to class yourself as a problem solver? Why not share your experiences and advice in the comments box below.