Problem Solving 101

I mentioned problem solving in my last post but did not fully outline the steps, so I wanted to do so here. This is a little more of a technical and a little less fun post, but it is important for those of you out there working through difficult choices. I find the use of a whiteboard particularly useful during this activity. Sometimes, I even like to use colored markers. But you can do this with good old fashioned pen and paper as well.

Steps to Problem Solving:

  1. Clearly identify the problem that you are trying to solve.
  2. Brainstorm every possible solution (even crazy or impossible ones - you may end up coming back to these) to the problem.
  3. Make a list of pros and cons next to each one. Be honest with your appraisal of each option.
  4. Decide which option makes the most sense based on the balance of pros and cons. Sometimes the path will be clear, but sometimes you'll be faced with many possible good choices.
  5. Follow through with whatever action you chose. 
  6. Reflect upon how whatever you did worked. Sometimes, it worked great, and you're done with the problem and might know what to do when similar problems arise! Other times, it wasn't that great. If that is the case, go to the next step.
  7. Return your original brainstorming list and choose a different option! Carry it out, assess, repeat. 

Now you know the basics of problem solving! Good luck to you all in tackling your decisions!