Problem Solving Strategies
The ability to be flexible is one of the most important aspects of problem solving. All of us have problems that differ from each other. However, it is the strategies that a person uses to solve problems which will lead to either success or failure.
There are a number of techniques you will want to employ when you run into problems or challenges. The first step to solving a problem is to look at any assumptions you may have about the situation.
When many people are faced with a problem, they make assumptions about the situation which can actually stop them from coming up with good solutions. At the same time, assumptions are essential. The reason for this is because they set limits to the scope of the problem, and allow you to set up a foundation which can be used to solve them. Assumptions also display our desires. For example, even if a criminal is to be punished by society for his crimes, a society that desires humane punishments would probably not want to use torture. Assumptions can also make a problem much easier to solve. If a problem has no assumptions, it will be too broad to deal with.
While assumptions are a necessity when it comes to solving problems, many people misuse them. An assumption should be based on laws of nature, not barriers that we create. Focusing on the problem rarely helps. When you run into a problem, you should take the time to think about any assumptions you are making about it. Is the assumption needed? Should it be used? The best way to answer these questions is to create a list of assumptions you have about a specific problem. Once you’ve done this, you should be able to look at the assumptions and decide whether or not they’re based on facts or things you assume to be true.
Many people struggle to solve problems because they use assumptions which are not based on logic or facts. Just because you believe something to be true doesn’t mean it is. For example, the design of swimsuits for women were limited for many years because designers "assumed" that there were a limited number of materials which could be exposed to water, and they felt that most women who purchased swimsuits would swim in them. However, a designer did a study which showed that well over 80% of women never wear their swimsuits in water, and this opened the doors for using a wide variety of different materials for swimsuits.
As you can see, the assumptions made by swimsuit designers limited their ability to create new designs. They didn’t base their assumptions off facts, but based their assumptions off what they perceived to be facts. There are a number of factors which people make assumptions about, and the three most common are money, time, and cooperation. We live in a world full of time constraints, and most projects must be completed on a deadline. However, many people assume that a project will take longer than it actually should, or they assume it won’t take the necessary time to complete. The latter is the worst of the two, because it can lead to you finishing projects late.
Money is a major problem for many people, and they often make assumptions about it that are not based on facts. For example, a person will assume that it will cost a certain amount to obtain something, without taking time to see if their assumptions are true. Have you ever heard someone say "if only I had the money, I could accomplish this." This is a psychological barrier that people create for themselves. A good problem solver would ask "how can I get the money to accomplish this task?" As you can see, they don’t limit themselves.
If you are working with a team, cooperation is important. However, some people make false assumptions in this area as well. For example, you assume your team will be interested in using a certain strategy, or you assume that they won’t be interested in a certain strategy. These are false assumptions which are not based on facts, because you have not got the opinions or thoughts of your teammates.