Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a problem with no apparent answers? Maybe you were tackling a challenging assignment at work, or perhaps you just couldn’t figure out a problem during your business degree. Either way, being unable to solve a problem can be frustrating and leave you feeling helpless. Still, learning from failure accelerates your problem-solving skills.
Fortunately, improving your problem-solving skills doesn’t require an exceptional IQ or excessive time. However, learning from failure is a core feature in environments such as elite business degree programs, such as the one at Aston University.
Problem-solving requires skills such as critical thinking, logic and reasoning, pattern recognition, visual awareness, and response time. However, anyone can strengthen their problem-solving abilities by adopting new habits and routines. So, if you want to improve your problem-solving skills, keep reading.
Ask the right questions
The first step to solving any problem is to ask the right questions. The questions you ask will determine the type of solutions you find. So, if you approach a problem with the wrong questions, you’ll likely find the wrong answers. Most people ask questions such as, ‘How can I solve this?’ or ‘What do I need to do to fix this?’ And they’re great at identifying the challenge at hand.
However, these questions only focus on the problem, rather than your approach to solving it. Problem-solving is a two-step process. First, you need to ask questions related to the problem itself, such as, ‘What’s wrong?’ Second, you must move on to the solution after you identify the problem. An example of a question to ask is, ‘What am I trying to accomplish?’
Set a deadline
One of the best ways to help jump-start your problem-solving abilities, especially in business, is to set a deadline for when you want to have a solution in place. Setting a deadline adds a sense of urgency to your problem-solving efforts. This helps you stay focused and motivated. The fact is that often people have to meet deadlines at work and in life. So, it’s good to get used to setting deadlines for solutions.
Many ways exist to create deadlines (or milestone dates) to improve your problem-solving skills. For instance, you can set a deadline for defining the full scope of the problem. And you can also set a deadline for when you wish to have a solution in place, with milestone dates along the way. Setting a deadline for when you want an answer helps you focus on the solution rather than the problem.
Break the problem into smaller pieces
When tackling a problem, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the immense volume of information. There might be so much going on in your head that you can’t even focus on the issue at hand. So, break a complex problem into smaller pieces to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed. Moreover, tackle each part separately. Setting smaller goals helps you tackle a difficult situation one piece at a time.
Setting smaller goals can help you avoid getting overwhelmed when tackling a complex problem. It allows you to break down significant issues and organize your thoughts. Also, it helps you identify potential solutions more quickly, with smaller solutions leading to larger ones. It can help you stay on track and avoid procrastination, and it can also help you identify potential roadblocks that might impede your progress.
Practice critical thinking skills
Critical thinking describes an analytical approach to problem-solving that seeks to reach a conclusion based on evidence and facts. The ability to think critically is essential for effective problem-solving. The more of a critical thinker you become, the better your company will perform. So, setting aside time to practice critical thinking can strengthen your problem-solving abilities.
You can practice critical thinking skills in a number of different ways. For example, you could read books about it, take courses, or play puzzles or even word games. You can also set aside time to practice problem-solving skills with logic games. They help you identify and define the problem and create a solution. By practicing problem-solving, you become familiar with the process, and it will be easier for you to tackle future challenging situations.
Develop your visual awareness
Visual awareness is the ability to see, understand and process visual information quickly and effectively. Visual awareness is essential for problem-solving because it helps you identify, recognize and differentiate between visual information. Of course, you have many ways to strengthen your visual awareness. You can use games and puzzles to hone your visual problem-solving skills, such as mazes, jigsaw puzzles and Sudoku.
You can also try using different types of visual aids to help you solve problems. For one, visual aids help you identify patterns and visualize various issues, as well as helping you identify potential solutions. However, remember that visual information can be anything from written texts to images and sounds. So, it’s essential to notice the information you’re receiving and what the sources are.
Get to know yourself better
You can improve your problem-solving skills and become a more effective problem solver by getting to know yourself better. The more you know about your strengths and weaknesses, the easier it is for you to identify potential solutions and apply them to your problems. The problem-solving process is as unique as the individual navigating it, and learning from failure is a crucial life and business skill. So, it often means that what works for one person may not work for you.
However, practicing and getting to know your superpowers and weaknesses can improve your problem-solving skills. A few final tips to help you explore your strengths include taking personality tests, keeping a journal, or practicing mindfulness meditation. Sure, problem-solving is a difficult task that can be frustrating, especially when there are no apparent answers. However, it’s also a skill that you can easily improve with the right strategies and techniques. So, by practicing the things mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more effective problem solver and a happier person.