Everyone has problems, and we spend most of our working lives solving them. For those who find this quite negative, problems can be also termed as Issues, Challenges or Opportunities.
Some people are especially gifted at problem-solving while others struggle. Some are only good at solving some types of problems, while some other are simply great at finding viable solutions for any problem. Society generally calls the latter, smart.
What if I was to tell you that there’s a simple way to solve any problem you may encounter. In fact, it can be regarded as the smart way to solve problems.
Before we get into it, let’s see how people really fail at solving problems.
You Solve the Wrong Problem
Well, if you don’t know what the problem area is and don’t understand it very well, you’ll probably solve a problem that actually doesn’t exist while the actual problem remains as it is.
You Solve It Half Way
Again, this happens if you don’t know what the full problem is. Identifying and understanding the problem is so important before you start.
You Solve it but New Problems Show Up
This is typical when you don’t know much about the background about the problem area. If you know nothing about computers and you try to fix a broken computer, you probably won’t get very far and will likely make it worse.
You Don’t Know How
Well, obviously if you are trying to solve a problem that you have no clue about, this is going to be hard. When that’s the case, get the help of an expert in the domain the problem you are trying to solve belong to.
How to Solve Any Problem
As it’s quite clear the first step to solving any problem is understanding it thoroughly. Apart from getting a domain expert involved, the best trick I can bring you in is to draw it out. If you are a visual person this is the first thing you should do.
Different kinds of problems require different diagrams, but mind maps and flowcharts are common solutions to most problems.
Thinking Around the Problem
To get a background idea on what the problem and problem area is, mind maps can help greatly. Start with the core idea and branch out as you think about various aspects of the problem.
After thinking about wide aspects of the problem, it’s best to document what the immediate context of the issue is.
To do this, a concept map helps. A concept map is a diagram where you use various shapes to show areas of the problem and how they are connected.
Breaking It Down
Any big problem can be broken into a series of smaller problems. These are usually connected so a flowchart helps. Break the problem into smaller steps with a flowchart.
If you are analyzing an existing solution and trying to optimize it, a flowchart makes perfect sense as it also does the ‘defining’ part of the problem as well.
Once you have broken down the problem into smaller easily solvable problems in a flow chart, you can start creating another chart for the solution as well.
You should always get help if it’s available when you are solving any problem. A second opinion or a second pair of eyes can help a lot in getting the optimal solution.
Tools to Aid Visual Problem Solving
While there is a myriad of tools to help you draw things, Creately is definitely one of the easiest ways to visualize your problem.
It also comes with built-in real-time collaboration so it helps when you want to get someone else to collaborate on your problem.
Other choices for drawing diagrams to solve problems include Dia, Google Draw or even Microsoft office packages.