The starting point of problem solving is to get very clear regarding what your problem or challenge is. This helps avoid mind fog; the lack of clarity that makes it hard to concentrate on a specific challenge.
Problem solving: Questions and clarity
The engineer who asks herself, “how can I make this widget better?” is working with too vague a goal. She would be far more likely to improve her widget, if she looked at the challenge with more clarity. A great starting point would be for her to ask herself better quality questions.
These may include:
- How can I make this lighter?
- How can I make this faster?
- How can I make this quieter?
- How can I reduce the production cost?
- How can I make it smaller?
Problem Solving: Another example
The business owner who wants to improve his business needs the same kind of clarity. There are scores of areas he could focus on. Without the clarity of some specific questions, his mind would flutter like a butterfly around all of them, causing the mind fog I mentioned at the beginning.
For increased clarity, the business owner may ask himself:
- How can I improve the customer service experience?
- What can I add to our service, which will help it stand out in a crowded marketplace?
- How can I streamline the delivery or manufacturing process, so that it’s more profitable?
- What can I learn about improving my business, from the companies outside my industry? This is a great question when seeking to Steal Like an Artist!
- How can I improve our marketing message, so that it’s more attractive to our target market?
The starting point of finding great answers is to ask yourself the right questions. So, give yourself as long as you need at the start, to get the question or questions right. This initial preparation when problem solving, can make a massive difference.