How to improve your problem solving skills
Problem Solving - Introduction
It is no coincidence that some people seem to be able to solve any problem while others seem just to fret over them. In fact, some people are so successful as problem solvers that their whole life seems to flow like melted butter. There's no mystery about it. Success comes from method, failure from worrying uselessly.
PROBLEM SOLVING (starts here!)
1. Welcome Stuckness
You realise that you have a problem when you are trying to get somewhere but have no clear idea of how to proceed. (When you know how to proceed and perhaps don't relish the prospect, you are facing a task, not a problem.) Welcome the problem - it is an opportunity to be creative.
2. State Destination
Inform yourself about what you are hoping to achieve. Focus on desired outcome without worrying about method of getting there.
3. State Starting Point
Remind yourself about where you're starting from. - the status quo. In particular, remind yourself why the status quo is not satisfactory (or will soon become unsatisfactory).
4. Gather Data
At this stage it is hard to know precisely what data will be relevant. Gather, or make sure you know how to gain access to, all the data that you might need. You are unlikely to use it all but that doesn't matter.
5. Follow Hunches
Hunches (what ifs) are in effect untried solutions. Most hunches will be fruitless, but you should make yourself open to hunches and not reject them before testing them.
5. Falsify (do not verify) your Hunches.
Every hunch or idea has an infinite set of consequences, so you cannot predict every outcome. It is therefore logically impossible to prove an idea to be perfectly valid. However a single disastrous consequence refutes a theory. This is why you should test to prove false. If you can't prove an idea false then it may be true and worth pursuing.
7. Intersperse Task Work
You cannot know when hunches will come. Problem solving cannot be fully time managed. So it is best to define the problems early and get on with the tasks until the hunches arrive. Have faith. They will.
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