Apply 4 step technique to problem-solving
“Turn your obstacles into opportunities and your problems into possibilities.” ― Roy T. Bennett
All of us face problems, big or small, every day. Many a time we are at loss as to where to start and how to resolve the issue that we are facing. Irrespective of the scale of the problem, we should prepare ourselves with problem-solving techniques. Let’s start with its first step right away.
(1) Spot the “ core issue” of the problem.
To start with, we will have to break the problem down into smaller segments. e.g. When a student is not able to do well in his studies, it is pertinent to find out which subject is proving to be most difficult for him. If his performance in a foreign language subject is bringing down his overall score, then it’s a good idea to focus on that particular subject to start with.
Even while focusing on the foreign language, efforts should be made to see if it’s the grammar portion or the literature part that needs to be given greater attention. Likewise breaking down further will immensely help in identifying the central part of the problem area. Once having identified and spotted the weakest part or the foundation of the problem, we can start working on the solutions to address that particular area.
(2) Find out the cause or the reason of the problem .
The best way is to list out possible reasons or the causes of the problem. Let us take an example of a young band of musicians who are struggling to find an audience for themselves. These musicians regularly hold musical programs in the city’s local halls, but fail to get encouraging response as very few people come to attend their concerts. To figure out what is the root cause of not getting the right audience, the band members list out possible reasons. People may not have heard about them, which could be one of the reasons. Or maybe people do not like their kind of music, could be another reason.
These could be mere assumption that needs to be established after testing it out. A method to test the assumption can be performed by doing the yes/no tree to answer a few questions that help in clarifying these assumptions. In this particular case when the band members through their questionnaire asked the members of the public if they knew about their band if the majority of the respondents say no then the root cause of people not coming to their concert could be lack of publicity. If the public responds with yes, then perhaps the people are not coming to their concerts as they may not be their fans. In that case, the yes/No tree will have to be further branch out that will try to seek answers to the new questions. We have to keep asking questions till we find answers to all the reasons to establish the assumptions. Once we have identified the real cause of our problem, then we can start its scrutiny to prepare for a solution.
(3) A deep study of a problem and its innovative resolution results in best solution
Having performed the two key steps towards problem-solving and having identified the problem, and its causes, the next step is to perform a study that will bring up the best solutions. Let us go back to the example of the musical band. By careful analysis of the data gathered at hand through the responses by the members of the public through the questionnaire, they have understood that the root cause of thin attendance at their concerts is a lack of awareness among the people. So they begin working towards the solution by raising awareness about their band in the public by creating a buzz on social media platforms, giving interviews to the local newspapers and on community radios, sending out emails, etc. Likewise, they came up with many possible solutions, that they prioritized to make their action plan most effective.
Having thus understood the steps towards problem-solving, we can now apply them in everyday circumstances. We will now finally come to the fourth and final step in the problem-solving technique.
(4)Think Big. Then break it down into small actionable steps. Make a plan of action, and also a detailed analysis of how to implement it. Be ready to course correct it in case some steps that you try do not offer a tangible solutions, replacing them with alternate ones. You are on your way to greatness.
Most of us dream big. Some of us may want to be famous writers or a musician. But looking at the magnitude of our dream, we are often afraid to even think about it. So, after some time, we stop even to think about it as we believe they are impossible to achieve. We then remind ourselves that dreams after all will remain dreams and never become a reality. But this the mindset can be changed.
All big dreams are achievable provided we set up small actionable goals one at a time, For example, Tony Robert, a young graduate , is aiming to be a top-notch IT programmer, but he does not have the required skills and not even a computer of his own. He is aiming to buy an Apple computer that costs $1200 in the next seven months. Tony has therefore set up a clear, specific, to-the-point goal. Tony considers all the gaps between his present position and his ultimate goal of owning the Apple computer and starts to work on possible solutions to achieve the goal. This way he will be closing the gaps gradually and achieving his objective. This he does by closely weighing and examining the options that he has. Such as taking into account his bank’s savings, doing a part-time job to earn some extra money, reducing some of his unimportant expenses, or even switching to a more paying job. By listing all the possible solutions, Tony chooses the most practical and implementable ones to reach his goal.
Everyone faces problems, from small ones like a learning a new language to large ones like fulfilling a lifelong dream. Fortunately, there are only four steps to solving any problem: break it down, see what’s causing the problem, analyze the cause, and finally, execute an action plan.
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