Monthly Archives: May 2012

Problem Solving for Business Breakthroughs — Part I

Basic Problem Solving

The method that follows is simple and easy to use; however, don’t let the functional simplicity fool you.  It is in fact, an incredibly profitable systematic method that can prevent losses and improve results.  And, I believe you’ll find most day-to-day problems are the perfect candidate for its use.  In addition, more likely than not, you’ll find your problem can be resolved with this tool.

The Problem Solving 1 Method has seven steps.  Most likely you’ll succeed in finding a solution to your problem prior to Step Seven.  But when you find yourself at Step Seven, you can take comfort in the fact that this is the exact procedure Thomas Edison used to discover a better light bulb filament.  And heck that’s not bad company at all.

Problem Solving 1

STEP ONE:  Describe the Problem.  Write a description of the problem.  In the first draft you can add as many details as you like and be as descriptive as you’re comfortable with.  However, the final draft should succinctly describe the problem in one sentence.

STEP TWO:  List all possible solutions.  Generate a list of all the possible solutions.  Just start writing.  Even if you’re not sure of what to write, begin anyway.  The more you write, the more ideas you will think up and you can always discard ideas that won’t work.  Keep writing possible solutions until you’re exhausted of ideas.

STEP THREE:  Select the best solution.  Review the list of solutions and select the very best solution.  (You may have the answer right away or you may have to debate it.  You may have to think about, sleep on it, use the pros and cons method, or the process of elimination method.)

STEP FOUR:  Select the second best solution.

STEP FIVE:  Review to be sure.  Review your stated problem, and list of all possible solutions, in conjunction with the first and second best solution selections.  After reviewing, consider if you made the right choices or if changes should be made.  (Sometimes it helps to do the review a day or two later–if time permits.)  After this review, firmly, decide on your number one solution.

STEP SIX:  Try your number one solution. Test your number one solution.  Try it out to see if it solves your stated problem.  If it works—the problem’s solved.  If not, try your second best solution.  Again, if it works, the problem is solved.  Now, if after trying your second best solution the problem still exists, proceed to Step Seven.

STEP SEVEN:  Trial and Error.  If a solution doesn’t look, feel, or seem right, or otherwise doesn’t work, get rid of it in favor of another.  Don’t get stuck or hung up on a solution.  Throw it out-of-the-way and get another one in place.  The idea is to keep moving–to keep making progress as quickly as possible.  To keep moving–keep trying or fitting new solutions.  The secret to success is to expedite your advancement.  Pondering over or falling in love with one solution or item that’s not quite working is killing time–causing delays.  Think of it as building a puzzle.  Try these solutions or puzzle pieces and if they work, good; if not, discard them and try another.  To quickly solve a puzzle or a problem, the best advice you can receive is this: If a solution doesn’t work, don’t fall in love with it; and, don’t try to force it.   Launch it (set it aside) and get another one.  Repeat this method until you succeed.  Remember, the secret here is to be decisive and act fast.

As business leaders, much of our day-to-day activity involves finding the best solutions to an onslaught of problems.  Therefore, it is incumbent that a competent leader be an excellent problem solver.  Problem solving 1 is just one more tool, in your tool box, that when properly used will help you to excel as a leader in your field.

This process is based on common sense, logic and testing solutions.  And, it will work–if you do!