To assume that there is only one solution to any given problem is to question the very nature of reality. Yet, because many people are not trained in problem-solving, they can’t see a way where there are potentially dozens or even hundreds of solutions.
Problem-solving is a lost art. But if you can master it, it will improve your relationships, career, business, and life.
Why Do Problem-Solving Skills Even Matter?
No matter how good your strategy, execution, or team, you will encounter various challenges Google can’t solve for you. From cash flow problems to personal challenges that threaten to take you out of the game completely, the surprising and unexpected crop up at inopportune moments.
If you have good problem-solving skills, you will waste no time brainstorming with your team, coming up with dozens if not hundreds of solutions that could work. It sounds simple, and it is when you know what to do and how to do it. The problem is that many entrepreneurs are not taught how to do it, so they are cast into desperate situations where they feel there are no workable solutions.
But how do you build your problem-solving muscle? If you want to know, read on…
Train Yourself to Look for the Alternatives
Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam before? Of course, you have, right? Despite the slowdown, most people will stay on the same road and hope for things to get better instead of considering alternate routes.
Of course, there are situations where there are no workable alternatives. But there are also times when taking a bit of a detour, cutting through a parking lot (crude example), or even going back the way you came can end up saving you a lot of time.
If you train yourself to look for alternatives in every situation, you will begin to see that there are almost always unexpected or unconventional solutions to the problem you’re encountering.
Practical Examples of Problem-Solving
Having experienced many ups and downs in my business and financial life, I’ve had to problem-solve on countless occasions. Here are some practical examples:
- I was frequently at business events where people left empty cans and bottles by their seats. I started collecting them so I could bring them to the bottle depot and put some funds back in my pocket for business expenses or tickets for major events.
- I owned a car whose passenger side window went off track. I asked a mechanic how much it would cost to repair, and it was far too much for a 10-year-old car. I duct-taped the window shut and kept going. I did the same when two other windows did the same (of course, you’d want to watch out for authorities).
- I once had an eBook to complete on a tight deadline. I wanted to cover several more sections before calling it “done,” but I compromised for minimum viable so I could move on to the next steps in my project.
While you don’t want to violate any laws or values you hold dear, problem-solving will mean looking at problems from different perspectives. So, stay open to possibilities and don’t discard any ideas at the brainstorming stage. Write everything down, and then prioritize your list (e.g., “We’ll try these three ideas before we try anything else.”). In time, you will get so good at finding alternatives that you will do it on autopilot.