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Effective Problem Solving

Problem-solving is a way to develop alternative strategies when obstacles arise.


It’s old, well-used, and invariably true: the problem contains the answer! This means that when we focus on exploring the problem the solution will reveal itself.


Problem-solving means repeating the process of looking for solutions. The more you do this, the more you learn about the nature of the problem.


You may need to be patient. Problem-solving can take time. Remember that you can find a solution quickly, but the solution always takes time. If you haven’t repeated and processed, you probably only have a solution.


Sometimes we are better at problem-solving when we detach ourselves from the problem entirely. We can do this with activity - run, cycle, write, make music, socialise. We can even do it when we are sleeping! Hence the old saying 'to sleep on it'. This 'unconscious processing' can be very effective.



Really Simple Problem-Solving

Answer these four questions:

  • What did you try to do?

  • What were the problems you had?

  • Why were these problems for you?

  • What can you do about these problems?



Checklist for Effective Problem-Solving


Long-term orientation - Am I looking for a long-term solution to this problem – one that would prevent similar problems happening in the future, or that would help us solve similar problems more quickly?


Asking advice - Can I make the time and space to find the most appropriate person for advice on how to solve this problem?


Changing activities and schedules - Can I change my activities and schedules to give me enough time and space to try new things out or spend longer searching for solutions?


Taking A Break - If I need a break from this problem, can I change my activities and schedules to go and have a social chat with someone or talk about less pressing problems, so I can come back to this problem fresh?

Getting a solution - Now I’ve got a solution, who needs to know and can they help me improve the solution?


Review - Was the solution implemented successfully? If not, what could I have done better?


Learning - How and with whom do I share my learning in solving this problem?

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