Problem-solving is an important skill needed in one’s personal and professional life. Similarly, it plays a major role in consulting. While it might seem like some individuals naturally have strong problem-solving skills, it is an acquired skill by most. Problems can be divided into two types- expected problems and unexpected problems. There are various strategies that can be used to improve this skill like planning, communication, visualization, etc.
Sometimes what seems like a problem might not be one, thus, it is important to first define and visualize the problem. A well-defined problem is a problem half solved. It is a good idea to have a calm mindset and define what exactly the problem is. Visualizing the problem is a quick and easy way to do so. This can be done by making a Venn Diagram that shows overlaps and get more clarity or even just the old school methods of writing it down or talking to someone about it. it is helpful to divide the problems into multiple parts and focus on each part individually to come to a solution. This will help holistically understand the problem and make it easier to find an optimal solution. It is important to not only think about solving the problem but also the reason behind it. This way, the recurrence of the same problem can be avoided.
Having had a clear and holistic understanding of the problem, the next step is communication. Concisely communicate the problem, like the headline in a newspaper. Communicating the problem with the right people and with an open mind and positive outlook will introduce more ways it can be looked at. Something that might seem like a problem to you, might not to someone else. This will give better ideas and strategies to plan and solve the problem.
It is now time to plan. In this step, it is very important to have an unbiased view of the problem, focus on the facts more than the opinion. It is also critical to keep in mind the interest of all stakeholders while planning the solution. For expected problems, planning the solution in advance is the key. An unexpected or ambiguous problem needs planning at the right time. Finding the solution to a problem does not always have to be as complicated as it might seem. Most often the solution is a simple one that can be derived out of common sense. Thus, it is important to first look at the problem independently, maybe the solution is right in front of you. In some cases, there is a possibility of multiple solutions to one problem. Hence, it might be a good idea to discuss the problem with others and brainstorm, to find the most optimal solution. This could also mean discussing the solution with people at the ground level because sometimes they are the ones who understand the problem best. If you are unable to arrive at a solution, use the method of elimination i.e. list down what are not the best solutions to the problem at hand.
Very often, problem-solving is just a matter of perception. Problem-solving is an approach, a lifestyle, an attitude, a virtue. You are never given a problem that you cannot solve, an unsolvable problem is not really a problem, it is a lesson to be learned. While a problem can be viewed as an opportunity to create, to step out of your comfort zone, it is also important to understand that not every problem is a unique one, sometimes the solution might already be available at hand. Once a plan is made and a solution is decided, it is important to keep in mind that the plan should be executed with a calm mindset. It is important to ACT rather than REACT. Acting over the problem in a positive, composed manner will help in solving it smoothly and without further hindrance.