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How to sharpen your problem-solving skills

August 11, 2020

Everyone is born a natural problem solver, but:

Do you feel jittery making tough decisions? Are you often at your wits’ end handling problematic situations?

If it’s knowledge, it can be acquired. If it’s a skill, it can be improved. All tough problems have a solution, it’s just a question of figuring it out.

Give yourself a break, we’ve got you covered. Make your problems a breeze with these 5 brilliant DOs and DON’Ts to sharpen your problem-solving skills.

1. DO change your mindset

Mindset is the frame of mind. It’s the sum of beliefs, opinions, and thoughts that you have about the world and yourself. Think of mindset as a lens through which you filter reality. Changing mindset is hard but it’s important that you don’t always see problems as something terrifying that you can’t overcome.

Problems are not always rocket science. Not overstressing yourself sounds straightforward but it is our nature to perceive difficulties as obstacles to be surmounted. Amid anger and anxiety often comes blurred vision.

Try to liberate yourself from seeing problems as frustration instead of opportunities by shifting your perspective. Take our advice and avoid lingering on any negative first glances. What you should focus on are the learning chances and long-term self-development.

2. DO get to the root of the problem

Dealing with problems is like baking a cake. You can go straight into the kitchen without a recipe or the right ingredients and do your best, but the end result is unlikely to be tasty!

Believe it or not, the tendency to come up with an immediate solution means adding fuel to the fire in many cases. Even if it’s urgent, first, step back, identify what actually happened, the nature of the problem and the involved parties. Don’t just jump in with both feet.

Here’s the 5-step process for problem-solving, which focuses on digging into the details of an issue to understand its underlying causes. By answering the suggested questions at each stage, you can get to the root of any problem and map out solutions easily from there.


3. DO break the problem into smaller problems

Big problems are nothing more than a collection of minor problems. Managing tangible tasks is less ambiguous than tackling the trouble as a whole.

Charles Conn, co-author of the book Bulletproof Problem Solving, believes most problems can be solved by first, “very clearly formulating what the problem is” and second, “showing the structure of the problem using logic trees.” This approach allows you to get into different aspects of the problem while preventing you from being uncertain of not knowing what to do.

Logic tree, or issue tree, can come in various forms. You can use this example of logic tree by McKinsey & Company or other visual methods of breaking down the complex problem into simple component parts.


4. DON’T undertake everything yourself

Don’t be afraid to seek outside help. Gather your team and get as much manpower to step in. People are willing to give help much more often than not and they won’t think less of you for needing assistance. It’s always the last resort to handle everything yourself.

Also, try to communicate with all involved parties, be it the clients or whoever with interest affected by the matter, and allow them to share their perspectives. Ensuring that every voice is heard not only helps you get to the result quicker but also allows the solution to be more objective.

5. DON’T forget to look back and celebrate

After the problem is solved, should you just forget the settled problem on which much effort is already spent?

No, take your time, try to think of better alternatives to undertake the past problematic circumstances. By doing this, you will keep exceeding yourself in dealing with problems after each case. Appreciating your accomplishments is also a skill, it helps to reinforce your confidence to triumph over future harsh situations.

Feeling more confident now? Why not put your problem-solving skills into practice? At NashTech, we are trained to excel in providing solutions to business obstacles. Join us and be a Nasher today.