Every day is fraught with problems large and small. From feeling “stuck” on a project, to tackling a major meltdown, you are likely solving problems all day, every day. How do you know if you’re hitting the mark? What’s your process to find the best solution? Are you inspiring creativity or simply checking the boxes?
According to the World Economic Forum 2020 Future of Jobs Report, the top key skills of tomorrow’s labor market are centered on problem solving – analytical thinking, active learning, complex problem-solving, critical thinking and analysis and of course, creativity, originality and initiative. We know from our daily lives these skills are important and the data supports us.
So what do we do with the myriad of problems, big and small in our lives? First, remember that problems are an opportunity to make something better and relieve suffering and discomfort. Second, identify the problem, which many people find to be the hardest part of problem solving. Sometimes we solve for the symptoms and not the problem, so get real curious about the root of the problem. Third, generate multiple solutions to create lots of options to choose from. It is easy to find one solution and go for it, but taking time can allow creativity to work and often results in an even better idea to solve the problem. Once we have long lists of great solutions, we can choose the best one – and afterwards, re-evaluate to ensure we solved the problem.
Creativity and innovation are extremely important to problem solving and making the most of the opportunity a problem creates. There are steps we can take to increase our creativity – again start with that open and abundant mindset, which helps us remember all (or many, many) things are possible. Collaboration and cross-pollination – which means including other people in the process. These are rich soils in which to grow creativity.
And some helpful hints on problem solving . . .
The basics are important in problem solving. Sometimes a glass of water and a snack – and maybe even a walk – are just the things we need physically to support the brain power needed for effective and creative problem solving.
Keep an eye out for when it is time to let things go. Sometimes there is no good solution, which means it is time to consider whether we can eliminate the problem, reduce its impact, pass it to someone else or even put off finding a solution until the circumstances are different.
Lastly, be careful of problems that are not ours to solve. Solving for other people’s feelings, other people’s job responsibilities, other people’s mistakes or omissions, can sometimes be a kindness, but is often part of a pattern of dysfunction.
We know we will have a problem today – how can we create more ease, meaning and joy from it?