Problem Solving and Planning

   The ability to solve problems is important for having a happy life.   One cause of pressure at my job is my running into problems that I have difficulty solving.  This causes projects to take a lot longer than my supervisors would like and pressure building up on me.  Sometimes in these situations I panic and as a result my problem solving ability decreases even more.  The first step to solving problems is therefore to try and stop panicking and to try and relax.   The next step that I have found helpful is to ask myself questions and to write down the answers.  Some possible questions are listed below. 

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What are the possible approaches to solving the problem?
  3. Have I encountered similar problems before and how did I deal with them then?
  4. Do I know of others who have solved similar problems and how did they do it?
  5. Which of the solutions that I have come up with is the best one to try?
  6. What could go wrong with any of the approaches to solving the problem?
  7. Do I know anyone I can talk to who can help me solve this problem?
  8. Where can I get information to help me solve this problem?

    Often there are several possible solutions to a problem and all those solutions have their own subproblems.  In that case it may be helpful to examine all those solutions carefully to see if there is a way to surmount those subproblems instead of rejecting the solutions out of hand.  Sometimes running through on paper everything that is supposed to happen can help solve a problem.  For example if one's problem was that a mechanical contraption didn't work, running through in one's mind that pushing lever A should cause gear B to turn which should pull on tread C may lead one to discover that tread C has fallen off gear B.  We can call this written simulation. Lets say something worked yesterday but didn't work today.   There has to be a difference between the conditions yesterday and today.  We might not realize what that difference is but if we write down exactly what we did yesterday and exactly what we did today and compare them we might find out.    Written  simulations are good for planning projects as well.  If one writes down everything that should happen when one implements each step of one's plan one may discover unanticipated problems before wasting a lot of time.


c o p y r i g h t   ( c )   1 9 9 9 -2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises.  All rights reserved

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