Problem solving is something that all people need on a daily basis. That’s because the need to solve problems is everlasting because they never end. They can be big and small, but you need to solve different issues regularly, from deciding the next career step to managing your academic assignments. There are effective psychological and other steps involved in effective problem solving, so use them to tackle all kinds of life issues. Forming the best problem solving strategies is one of the main aspects of your success. However, they must be rigorous, well-considered, and winning. Learn how to choose a viable strategy based on available resources.
Available methods to solve your problems
Algorithms are often used by people to solve their issues. They are all about step-by-step procedures involved in finding the right answer to any given problem. As an example, think about any detailed procedure involved in solving mathematic problems. Algorithms offer effective strategies that produce accurate answer, but they aren’t always practical. Another drawback is that they can be time-consuming and involve many steps. For instance, trying to open your door lock using a suitable algorithm to determine possible number combinations takes a lot of time. Available methods to solve problems include:
- Trial and error;
This method refers to a specific mental strategy based on the rule of thumb. However, there’s no guarantee that it will always produce the most effective solutions to problems. This problem solving strategy helps people simplify their complex issues by narrowing available solutions while making it easier to find the correct one using additional methods. The heuristic strategy of solving problems is also referred to as a mental shortcut. If you need to go to the other area of the city within a limited period of time, you will look for the shortest route and the fastest transportation. This rule of thumb allows you to make a decision based on past experiences.
Trial and error
Using trial and error is one of the most effective problem solving strategies because it’s all about trying a range of options and determining the ones that don’t work. Using this strategy is the number one choice of many people who need to solve highly time-consuming issues. You should use it as a follow up to identify the best possible options after narrowing them down through other available techniques.
It’s something that just happens suddenly. Many researchers suggest that it may happen if you solved similar issues in the past. For example, the knowledge that you solved specific questions in the past makes it simpler for you to solve the similar ones at present. Mental processes aren’t always related to past problems because they may happen outside of your consciousness. Each strategy is designed for specific problems, from determining your future career to buying groceries. All available techniques can be easily narrowed down and combined. Some people use the methods that combine heuristics and algorithms, while others prefer the strategies based on trial and error. Make your choice wisely after doing the following:
- Analyzing all available resources;
- Gathering relevant information;
- Monitoring your progress.
How to use the most effective problem solving approach
Learn the strategies that can help you efficiently handle the challenges that you face each day. Some of them can be minor and resolved fast, while others are big and require a lot of effort and time. The latter ones should be tackled by turning them into some formal projects. Using a systematic approach will help you succeed, no matter if you focus on big or small issues. It involves a few basic problem solving steps that must be taken:
- Defining a specific problem that must be solved;
- Determining its causes;
- Generating helpful ideas;
- Choosing the best solution;
- Taking the necessary action.
Defining a specific issue
Defining your problem correctly is one of the most important problem solving strategies. That’s because the way you define it determines how you will solve it. For instance, after receiving complaints about your academic assignments, effective solutions to this problem can be different, and everything depends on how you define it.
Determining its causes
Once you successfully define your problem, you need to dig deeper and determines its basic causes. If you consider it as a certain gap between where you want to be and where you are now, the main causes of your issue are different obstacles that prevent you from closing this gap at once. This analysis is critical to ensure that the chosen solutions are targeted at the actual causes of your problem instead of its outcomes. If your solutions are focused on outcomes instead of actual causes, the same issue is quite likely to happen again in the near future because you failed to solve it completely.
Generating helpful ideas
Once you complete a difficult task of defining your problem and determining its main causes, you need to be creative and develop its potential solutions. Mind mapping and brainstorming are some of the best methods that can be used to come up with effective solutions for a given issue.
Choosing the best idea
After coming up with some brilliant solutions for your problem, determine the best one through a straightforward trade-off analysis. It’s all about defining the basic criteria of your issue and using them to evaluate how every solution compares to others. This important evaluation can be done through a simple matrix, and the highest ranking option is the best solution for a given problem.
Taking the necessary action
Once you determine the number one solution that you’ll use, it’s necessary to take action. If it involves a few actions or requires other people’s actions, create a special plan and consider it as a mini-project. If you use this simple approach, you will improve your problem-solving skills fast.
Obstacles and challenges in problem solving
Solving any problem is not always a flawless process. Sometimes, different obstacles and challenges may interfere with the ability to find effective tools easily and fast. The most common ones include:
- Irrelevant data;
- Functional tiredness;
- A mental set;
- Different assumptions.
Functional tiredness when using effective problem solving strategies is your tendency to see existing issues only in a customary fashion. It prevents you from getting a full picture of different options that you have to find a perfect solution.
Misleading and irrelevant information
When trying to solve given issues, it’s advisable to distinguish between relevant information and irrelevant data that will only result in using faulty solutions. When dealing with any complex problem, it’s quite easy to start focusing on irrelevant or misleading information.
Assumptions and a mental set
When trying to solve a problem, some people can make their assumptions about specific obstacles and constraints that prevent its solutions. A mental set is another common obstacle that prevents people from solving issues. Basically, it’s their tendency to use only those solutions that worked in the past instead of searching for possible alternatives. A mental set can work as a heuristic in some bases, thus making it a helpful problem solving method. However, it often leads to increased inflexibility, which makes it harder to find the best solutions.
Why understand your problem before solving it
Understanding your problem us a simple and important step to solve it. If you fail to define it clearly, your solutions are quite likely to be inefficient. To get its proper understanding, you need to look at different angles and ask basic questions. Is there only one problem to solve? Can you restate it in your own words? Spend more time with a given issue to be ready to generate its effective solutions.
Defining your objectives
State your basic aim because it’s an effective way to determine the nature of a given issue. What do you want to achieve? What do you wish to discover? You should consider both unknowns and knowns of your problem to find the data that can help you succeed.
Finding information systematically
Along with understanding your goals and issue, you need to gather as many facts about it as possible to get its clearer picture. For example, you can look for online resources, talk to experts and other people, etc. Once you gather the necessary information, organize it effectively by condensing, rewording, and summarizing. It’s a crucial step to implementing any problem solving strategies, especially when dealing with complex issues.
How to create an effective plan
The first step to find the best solution is to analyze the information you have and evaluate its importance. When making this analysis, look for interesting relationships and links to get a better idea of the overall situation. Sometimes, information should be divided into smaller parts to make analyzing it a more manageable process. Use such helpful tools as special graphs, charts, and so on.
Finding effective solutions
After looking at your available information, you need to generate possible solutions. Use effective tools to come up with the best ideas. For instance, it’s possible to use similarities and analogies. Look for any resemblance with common or past problems. If you can find them, you will be able to adapt previous solutions. Besides, try to divide and conquer, which means breaking a specific problem into smaller issues and brainstorming their effective solutions separately.
Evaluate all possible ideas and choose the best one after analyzing your issue and its information. Take into account the prospective of their suitability, and this step may involve running a special experiment or testing a particular scenario because this analysis will help you determine the consequences of potential solutions. Pick the one that suits your needs perfectly, doesn’t create any further issues, and will work. Remember that every solution produces its unique set of circumstances that should be evaluated attentively.
After determining the best solution, you need to implement it. Some unforeseen issues may arise at this stage, especially if you fail to structure a given problem correctly. Evaluate and review all possible outcomes to solve it effectively and avoid obstacles.
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