Our ability to problem solve is often directly correlated with our levels of success. Regardless of what function or role we inhabit, we are constantly bombarded with obstacles that require a measured response.
I prefer to view these problems as opportunities to improve a situation. As the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
To improve your response, approach particularly troublesome problems using a problem-solving framework. In my framework, I look at the situation like I view Monet paintings – from afar. I assume a third-party perspective that enables me to take a step back and hypothesize all stakeholder points of view. From this perspective I recommend you:
Define the problem.
What’s causing it? Without knowing what the problem is and what’s causing it, you’ll either be fixing problems that don’t need fixing or not finding the right solution.
Understand what you can control.
If you have no control over some aspect of the problem, don’t focus your efforts on solving the problem by trying to change that element. Think creatively about how you can solve the problem and consider changing directions that circumvent that element entirely.
List your potential solutions.
Come up with potential solutions to fix the cause of your problem or change the landscape entirely. Improve your creativity by brainstorming ideas with others to develop possible solutions. Additional perspectives can give you a more complete view of the whole picture. I also find it helpful to look at other solutions to disparate problems and see if those can be applied to your problem at hand.
Pick the best option and act on it.
Once you settle on the best option for solving the problem you’ve defined, take the steps to carry it out. You’ll find this process is very rewarding, especially if you start seeing immediate results. If this solution doesn’t solve your problem. Great! Now you know and you can move back through these steps to see what options you have to approach the problem that exists now.
Often, I find out problems aren’t as bad as they initially appear. Problems can be great opportunities to explore new directions in your business. Hopefully, your problem-solving process will have the results you desire. Once you decide on a solution to a problem, it is often best to move on and tackle the next problems opportunity that comes your way. This is particularly true for problems you don’t have any control over. Don’t waste your time dwelling on what went wrong or why the situation isn’t fair; learn from your missteps and move forward by proactively taking steps to solve problems.