better problem solver
We often get broken by the problems in our life, but problems come, to make us shift from our comfort zone to device a better system. Once we embrace this and move forward with a positive approach, we can receive this blessing in disguise.

Who is problem solver? Why is he an expert and others fail at problem solving?

These are the people we often seek guidance from for solving our problems. They are considered as the expert in solving issues in their domains. Experts can foresee the things that others may not and can come up with simple solutions for the complex problems. 

We consider them having extraordinary minds and we don’t have the same level of brain to match. Everyone has their own capacities and level of problems. But, we approach all of them with one size fit all mindset, leading to mixing up the things. Often people without thinking apply all the possible suggestions to solve an issue, making it worse. 

Problem solving is a perfect combination of art and science wherein one must apply knowledge as well as the creativity. So, the solution must be a perfect and most appropriate for the problem.

What are the obstacles for problem solver?

Understanding the common obstacles in problem solving is must to learn how to be a better problem solver. Generally, these barriers are in the form of mind blocks obstructing our ability for efficiently solving the problems. The common obstacles are –

1. Mental Set

The approach to apply the same solution to all similar problems from the past makes us victims of limited thoughts. We don’t apply our logic to think beyond and find other ways to solve the problem. In different scenarios, the similar looking problems may not be solved with common solutions.

2. Functional Fixedness

Having a fixed approach to use an object for a specific task, based on the learning through our experiences. This leads to killing the creative side of our mind and narrows our thoughts for thinking beyond the limits.

3. Unnecessary Constraints

Putting experience based constraints which results in limitation of thoughts. Stopping us to find the most appropriate solution for the situation. We bind our thinking to the unnecessary blocks which never existed.

4. Irrelevant Information

It is presumed to use all the information provided, to come up with the best solution. Before using it we must assure that all the information is relevant and not misleading. Irrelevant information will only create confusion.

These are some of the commonly known obstacles that hinder our thoughts from thinking beyond. Environmental, cultural, natural, biasness etc. can be other factors that obstruct our thinking. Finding a solution should not be time consuming, as time is very crucial factor. In such situations we may use an already known solution and meanwhile find the right solution for the problem.

Applying a similar kind of solution is like setting a model in a manufacturing unit and producing the same sets. But problems are not manufactured in some factory or industry which will abide by a set of rules. Mastering problem solving is a lifelong process and one must move one step at a time. The only approach to be a problem solver is being open to continuous learning and evolving.

How to be a problem solver?

We can not master every domain when it comes to subject knowledge. Hence we need experts from the specific field. Below are the ways that will help in developing the mindset for solving the problems in a better way. Following these will make you a better problem solver.

1. Doing things out of routine

Doing things out of normal routine, gives a touch of freshness to our mind, breaking from the monotonous schedule. A fresh mind and thoughts are required to attack a problem for a better solution. This will help in looking from different aspects to find out the best possible solution. The activities like playing games, going on adventurous trips etc. will help in breaking the monotonous routine.

2. Learn new skills to be an expert

We generally think if we are learning some skill how it is going to benefit us? We rarely do things out of passion or hobbies, the simple excuse being lack of time. Learning different things helps in growing our creative mind. An architect can be a cook, or a golfer or car racer or may be a poet at the same time. One’s interest in different domains enhances his knowledge and creativity.

3. Expand your horizon

Keep on learning new things, like various cultures, religions, thought groups etc. This will help in broadening our mind with better awareness and understanding of the different aspects of the same issue. Learning will also help in reducing biases, as perfect solutions can’t be biased.

4. Spending time in nature

Nature is a very good teacher, we can learn many things from our fellow humans and other species. It is a good source of motivation. All the species are busy in doing their work and hence by observing them we can learn a lot. Even the younger and older version of humans teach us a lot. Observation is one of the best ways of learning if taken positively. With someone’s failure, we may take lessons and must not repeat the same mistakes.

5. Chunk Decomposition - an important tool for problem solver

It happens that we feel stuck and may not see any light to solve the problem. Start by breaking the problem and establishing the relations between them. Drawing the mind map of all the known and unknowns and linking them to find a way out. By breaking into sub problems, we get a better look and can remove the unnecessary constraints.

There are many other ways that will help in improving skills to become a better problem solver. These can be learned and practiced over time. One must look at the impact of the problem and accordingly decide onto the resources to be used. We cannot apply creativity at all the places, time and money being the constraints. A better solution is better only when delivered on time.

Poonam Sharma with her never give up attitude is passionate about solving issues whether personal or professional. She is on a mission to change the lives of millions by her writing.

6 thoughts on “5 ways to be a better problem solver

  1. Wonderful article. It clearly lists out the obstacles and solutions for problem solving. Rightly pointed that “Environmental, cultural, natural, biasness etc can be other factors that obstruct our thinking.” Using chunk Decomposition is a new technique

  2. Very well articulated. Spend time in nature an excellent point as we learn a lot from observing than doing. Using chunk decomposition a new technique got to learn from your article. Good work.

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