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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Comments 9 comments

Virtual Network profile image

Virtual Network 8 years ago from UK

Hi Paraglider

This is just a I am testing it (no.5 above)

My hunch is, you might appreciate the following quotes:

"There is no such thing as a problem...without a gift for you in its hands, You(we) seek problems because you(we) need their gifts."


"You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.

Don't turn away from possible futures before you are certain you don't have anything to learn from them.

You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past."

Just a hunch..........

(Quotes from 'Illusions' by Richard Bach)

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi VN - a good hunch too - I didn't know of that book. Sounds interesting.

Virtual Network profile image

Virtual Network 8 years ago from UK

hi Paraglider

hunch confirmed.....good

The book.....I strongly recommend you get hold of a copy (ebay is best) but before you read it get hold of a copy of 'Jonathan Livingstone Seagull' by the same author, Richard Bach, It's the most amazing book about flight.....and well, whatever else the reader may discover.

Ebay for very little outlay will get you both books...READ JONATHAN FIRST! ....Trust me.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

What a perfectly rational, organized, practical way to go about problem solving….wish I had it in me!

A paraglider must read Richard Bach! You may not agree with his philosophy though!

Virtual Network: I loved his JSL best – though Illusions comes close – One and Bridge Across Forever are great too!

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Virtual Network and Shalini - to be honest, I'd just forgotten the name Richard Bach. I read Jonathan Livingstone Seagull years ago, when it was first published. Great book. I will look out for Illusions too, but it might have to wait till I'm next back in UK. Out here in Qatar, I try not to accumulate stuff that I'll have to carry or lose later.

Sodasound profile image

Sodasound 8 years ago from Calgary, Canada

Always good to encounter another student of logic. Coincidentally, I've read both the Richard Bach books. I agree they are valuable, although it is likely you have already read things which engage in the same metaphysical commentary. I preferred Illusions myself, and each book stands well enough on its own.

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Sodasound - thanks for the read & comment. There are a few logician/philosophers here on HP, but we're still very much a minority!

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

good scietific way Dave, you get stuck at times because you refuse to open your minds too, just dwelling on it and refuse to move on and do something about it...

nice take DAVE, my scientist LOL,


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

That's right, Maita - if the solution could be 'worked out', it wasn't a problem, it was just a task. To break new ground, you have to invent, then test.

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