Problem Solving – The Failure Game

Problem-Solving-101-No9Last lesson I suggested being open to test out various life situations whenever we have several possible solutions. If you start thinking about it, the possibilities are almost endless. Testing is how I found a solution for how to politely deal with those self absorbed talkers you’ll meet now and then e.g. at conferences.

We don’t get many things done, despite their importance, because the little voice inside of our heads finds “good” reasons against them. Asking for favors is such an example. I absolutely hate asking for favors. A couple of years ago I needed at least five recommendation letters from people who I haven’t worked with. Asking people you know for a favor is one thing but asking absolute strangers to write something positive about you is a total different ballgame.

Since you can ask everyone only once there seems to be zero room for experiments.

What to do? (more…)

Problem Solving – Creating Ideas

Problem-Solving-101-No7This is the magical seventh lesson of the problem solving course. You can have the best approach to problem solving, but if you fail to come up with ideas for solutions then there is not much to solve, is there? I have touched on this part before (Planning Solutions Part 1), which makes this post the unofficial Planning solutions Part–2. I, however, decided to include methods I already mentioned to make this post a more useful resource beyond this course.

The following methods are very different, because some of them originate from very different situations. As such, some will work better for your situation and some will not work at all; Some may even sound like nonsense to you. My best advice for this situation in particular, as well as in life in general, is to keep an open mind. To support this open mindset, I suppressed the urge to categorize the methods below in any way. Please also keep in mind that a thorough understanding of your problem is the foundation of the entire process. An effective problem statement can make the difference between success and failure of your problem solving process. (more…)

Problem Solving – No Checks, No Glory

Problem-Solving-101-No6The acronym of the problem solving process in this course is UPEC (Understand, Plan, Execute, and Check). In this lesson I want to talk about the last stage: “Check”.

You may wonder why I even have to write a separate post about that stage. It seems so obvious. You are done when the problem is solved, what is there to check?

Well, first of all, if you’ve done everything perfectly the check would be the point in time when you actually acknowledge that you are done. That’s a great moment worth noticing, isn’t it?

However as you may guess, again, things are often not that easy if you want to do them right. Even the simplest problem may have more to it than you think. (more…)

Problem Solving – The Big Why

Problem-Solving-101-No5After a couple of weeks, I am finally back with another lesson of my problem solving course. I hope you don’t still wonder “Why problem solving?”, but if you do, then it is more than time to eliminate these doubts.

Let me start with the following statement:
Happy and successful people are mostly good at solving problems.

These solved problems are both their own and other people’s problems. What do you think about that? You may not work in service, but unless you are living in solitude under a rock, in which case I applaud you to your internet connection, you will have some contact with other people. Any form of contact counts, phone, email, tweets, anything. People have problems, and there are different ways to deal with these problems.

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Problem Solving – Execute and Measure

PS101ftThis is lesson four of the my little problem solving course. If you read the last post, you are probably expecting me to continue with further methods of idea creation. But more about these at another time. Let me explain you why. I am a fan of parallel progression, which means I don’t think a project or topic (in this case) has to be tackled at the beginning and worked through in full detail from the beginning to the end. I rather suggest to start working on all phases at the same time as much as possible.

Hence, I will give you a rough, nonetheless whole picture from the very beginning and refine it over time. This way you immediately see where I am going and you know at all times where we are at. You should also be able to apply what you read immediately since you know the big picture (see graphic below). The drawback of this method is of course that I have to promise you further details for a specific module until later.

Today’s lesson is about executing your solution. (more…)

Problem Solving – Planning Solutions Part 1

Problem-Solving-101-No3Welcome back to the third part of my Problem Solving 101. We reached the second phase of the UPEC process, the planning phase. By now you should have formulated your problem statement including your base conditions, which means by now you ideally fully understand your problem and everything that is involved.

Great, now you can start finding possible solutions. The next step would be to evaluate these solutions and decide for the best one. Then the third step is outlining a course of action and the fourth defining an ideal outcome and a minimal acceptable result (MAR). At last, you need to find a metric to track your progress before you reach the Execution-Phase where you finally start solving your problem according to plan.

PSP3-800

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Problem Solving – Understanding Your Problem

Problem-Solving-101-No2Welcome to the second part of my Problem Solving series. How about you think about any problem you want to get solved right now? I will also think about one.

But before we can start coming up with ideas for how to solve our problems, we need to know what the problem actually is to make sure, we don’t solve the wrong problem.

In the previous post, I defined a problem as something which when solved makes a situation better. I hope that makes sense for you, because if you wouldn’t believe solving the problem improves anything, then why would you want to solve it in the first place?

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Problem Solving Introduction

PS101ftIt is a plain and simple truth: Problems are an integral part of life, if we like it or not. And usually the more we do, the more problems we’ll have to face. You could say, the number of problems you have to overcome is a gauge of how active you are. Having problems is normal and actually a good sign.

Life is about solving problems and not about being productive for the “busy’s sake”.

The other good news is that we are born problem solvers. That is what we do from the moment we start to exist: We overcome obstacles. Thus, problems are nothing to hide from but a consequence of a successful life. The more problems we can check off, the farther we’ll go. The difference between doing really well in life and… well… just living, is that many of us stop at a certain point in life to seek out different pathways for how to approach obstacles. We have constructed our view of the world and how to “do stuff” and stick with it.

But problem solving is a skill like any other, which  needs to be practiced continuously and can be improved by adding different approaches to our repertoire. With everything ever changing around us we need to keep up.

This course is designed to give you a methodology for finding solutions for any given problem. Because problems are very different and also the people solving them, I will present you with a variety of methods and different approaches that will help you to tackle all sorts of problems.

If you are doubtful whether this course has any benefit for you, because you are already pretty good at dealing with your problems, then I have two arguments for you.
Number one: This is what I thought for a very long time until I got to work with many people with very different backgrounds. So I learned that there is not only one truth and not only one way to do things. Some methods work and some don’t. It is all about having many options.
Number two: It is free. You’ll need some time for reading that is true. But the time investment may worth it, because reading through this course can save you time down the road. Opening up and listening to others still helps me to avoid a lot of trouble.

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