Problem solving.


The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

Image via Wikipedia

A central skill set around which many areas of a project are built is the concept of problem solving.
The initial outline business case that kicks things off properly is the first example of defining a problem and finding the best solution.  As things progress, the theme continues as the bigger problems I.E business problems are broken down into user problems giving rise to functional solutions and functional problems giving rise to technical solutions.
There are many other areas where the same techniques are used such as risk management and day to day management.

Here’s a simple proven technique for problem solving that can be adapted and applied all over the place and which you will perceive interwoven into virtually all project management methodologies.

1. State the problem.
This is your first shot at it. Often it simply means putting that gut feeling into words

2. Identify what success looks like.
If the problem were solved instantly for you, how would you know? What would be different? What it would feel like? What would you see, or hear?
Don’t be surprised if you change your mind about the problem at this point. Some grow more serious and others disappear altogether, but virtually all problems change their form once they are examined in a bright light.

3. Define the problem.

This is the problem you are going to solve. You can’t solve it until you define it so take great care with this.

4. List all potential resolutions.

Get help if necessary, but look laterally and seek anything that might solve your problem. Don’t forget to take into account things that might just happen tommorow that would solve it.

5. Filter the potential solutions down through elimination.
Ruthlessly eliminate those that are unacceptable or simply won’t work for you, or will cause other problems and hopefully you are left with one or two favourites.

6. Explore the potential impacts of each one.
Before you make a decision, check carefully that there are not unseen consequences of following your favourite solution

7.  Make a decision.

Make a gut feel decision instantly. There’s no point in delaying and there’s no scientific way of improving the odds at this point so JFDI.

8.  Make a decision.

Take action. Organise any administration needed and communicate the solution and instructions to everyone involved. Monitor it until it is resolved.

Practice this until it becomes a habit and you will be able to make good decisions on the fly as well as considered decisions.

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