The 10-Step Process to Solve Any Problem

When you are faced with a problem, how do you go about solving it? Do you let it overwhelm you or do you flex your problem-solving muscles and figure out the best solution?

People who throw themselves at their problems often become frantic and confused. They take a haphazard approach to thinking, and then they are amazed when they find themselves floundering and making no progress.

The 10-Step Creative Problem Solving Process

Here is a 10-step method you can use to think systematically. With this method, you develop your critical thinking and problem solving techniques to genius levels.

1) Change Your Language About the Problem From Negative to Positive

Instead of using the word problem, use the word situation or call it a challenge or an opportunity. The more positive your language is, the more confident and optimistic you will be when approaching any difficulty. The more creative and insightful you will be in identifying creative solutions and breakthrough ideas.

2) Define the Situation or Problem Clearly

What exactly is the challenge you are facing? What is causing you the stress and anxiety? What is causing you to worry? Why are you unhappy? Write it out clearly in detail.

3) Use Critical Thinking to Approach the Problem From Several Different Directions

Ask, “What else is the problem?” Don’t be satisfied with a superficial answer. Look for the root cause of the problem rather than get sidetracked by the symptom. Approach the problem from several different directions. Brainstorm different solutions, because there are likely multiple solutions to the same problem, not just one.

4) Clearly Define the Ideal Solution to the Problem

What exactly must the solution accomplish? What ingredients must the solution contain? What would your ideal solution to this problem look like? Define the parameters clearly.

5) Pick the Best Solution to Solve Your Challenge

Pick the best solution by comparing your various possible solutions against your problem, on the one hand and your ideal solution, on the other. What is the best thing to do at this time under the circumstances?

6) Prepare For the Worst Possible Outcome and How to Overcome it.

Before you implement the decision, ask, “What’s the worst possible thing that can happen if this decision doesn’t work?” If your solution doesn’t work be ready to accept that and try something else.

7) Measure Your Progress

Set measures on your decision. How will you know that you are making progress? How will you measure success? How will you compare the success of this solution against the success of another solution?

8) Take Complete Responsibility for Your Decision

Accept complete responsibility for implementing the decision. Many of the most creative ideas never materialize because no one is specifically assigned the responsibility for carrying out the decision.

9) Set a Deadline for When Things Should Be Solved

A decision without a deadline is a meaningless discussion. If it is a major decision and will take some time to implement, set a series of short-term deadlines and a schedule for reporting.

With the deadlines and sub-deadlines, you will know immediately if you are on track or if you are falling behind. You can then use your creative thinking to alleviate further bottlenecks or choke points.

10) Take action and Solve Your Problem

Get busy. Get going. Develop a sense of urgency. The faster you move in the direction of your clearly defined goals, the more creative you will be. The more energy you will have. The more you will learn. And the faster you will develop your capacity to achieve even more in the future.

You can solve any problem, overcome any obstacle or achieve any goal that you can set for yourself by using your wonderful creative mind and then taking action consistently and persistently until you attain your objective. Success is a mark of a creative thinker, and when you use your ability to think creatively, your success can be unlimited.

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How to Solve Problems with Discussions

If you haven’t figured out how to solve your problem by following this 10-step process, then remember this mantra:

“When in doubt, talk it out.”

That’s because our ability to communicate is the most important skill you can develop to get on to the fast track in your career. When a problem comes up and you’re ready to chat in an effective manner, it will be your time to shine!

Solve Problems and Make Decisions More Effectively in Discussions With Other People
Perhaps the most important thing you do in business is to solve problems and make decisions, both by yourself and with other people. A major reason for meetings in the business organization is problem solving and decision making. The key to effective problem solving and decision making discussions, is for you to all go through the process systematically.

Here are 4 steps to keep meetings effective:

Clarify the Problem
Right at the beginning, you ask the question, “What exactly is the problem?” Clarity of definition will resolve 50% of the issues before they go any further

Think About the Future
When discussing a problem, be sure to focus on the future over the past. Ask the question, “Where do we go from here?” “What do we do from here?” “What are our options for the future?” Too many problem-solving discussions end up focusing all of the attention of all the people present on what happened in the past and who is to blame. The effective executive uses this type of communication to focus on where the company and the individuals are going, and what can happen in the future – the only part of the equation over which anyone has any control.

Focus On the Solution
A second element in effective problem solving communications, is for you to talk about the solutions instead of talking about the problems. It is for you to keep the attention of the individuals in the meeting focused on the possible solutions and what can be done rather than what has already happened.

The discussion of solutions is inherently positive, uplifting and has a tendency to release creativity amongst the group. A discussion of problems is inherently negative, de-motivating and tends to inhibit creativity. You can become a positive thinker simply by becoming a solution-oriented person rather than a problem-oriented person. If you get everyone in your organization thinking and talking in terms of solutions, you will be astonished at the quality and quantity of ideas that will emerge.

Put These Ideas Into Action
First, take some time to be absolutely clear about the problem that is under discussion. Give some thought to what an ideal decision or solution would accomplish. Instead of focusing on the situation as it is, talk about the situation as you would like it to be.

Second, keep the conversation focused on solutions, on what can be done in the future. The more you think and talk about solutions, the more positive and creative everyone will be and the better ideas you will come up with.

About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

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