Problem Solving

‘Problem’. It’s a dirty word. Not many people like them. Most people hate them. The art of solving them is seldom, if ever taught in educational venues and generally most people like to use them as a good excuse.

Despite this I am absolutely in favour of problems. For fifty years they’ve been my business and it may be true to say that the bigger the problem the more I like it and it all begins with how you see it. I find that good problem solvers accept then as facts of life and if you can’t beat them, they simply get bigger. For me they are challenges that need a resolution and there is always a way through them.

So first it’s about your attitude. Do you throw your hands in the air and bemoan your fate? Or do you see problems as a bonus – a chance to pit your wit against the dark forces? If you choose the latter course your halfway there. Remember, the only people without problems are in the cemetery. I have therefore come to a simplistic conclusion, “Problems indicate a sign of life!!!” The more problems you have, the more alive you are.

Next, forget about ‘BLAME’. Who caused the problem is insignificant, it’s happened and blame can come later if that’s your bag. Personally, I don’t go there, it’s useless to the problem solving mechanism and it gives you an out.

From here on in it’s about a few things really. They are:

1. You can’t solve a problem using the same thinking which created the problem in the first place. You need to think laterally in more than one dimension. Look outside the problem and act quickly to remedy the issues.

2. Look at the outcome you want and work back. I can’t give you the science of this mechanism but it works. I call it reverse engineering and it seems the more you concentrate on the desired end result, the more solutions surface.

3. Don’t be afraid to discuss a problem with trusted people. You’d be amazed how often others can offer a solution, disguised as advice. When the problem isn’t theirs they become more objective. The absence of emotion is the secret and when the problem isn’t theirs they become more logical and innovative.

4. Concentrating on the end game, work your way through possible scenarios and identify what it is you have to do and who you need to bring on board to move forward. It’s all a matter of determination. Don’t quit and persist, even when it all looks hopeless. Perseverance may be the holy grail of problem solving and it may mean ‘CHANGE’ and most people dislike change.

5. Finally, perfect practice makes perfect. Problem solving is an art and the more you do it the better you become. Most people avoid the process and simply get depressed. I believe I’m where I am because that’s where I want to be. I don’t blame others and that’s a good start.

So it’s all in the mind – your mind. Are problems bigger than you or are you the master of your fate? You decide. In business, as in life, success comes from facing the tough stuff and believing how great we are, not how small we are. And that’s the problem with problems!