Problems, problems everywhere! Is there a single soul on this earth without a problem? No right? But as long as there are problems, there will also be solutions to them. However, there is a catch! There may be many solutions to a given problem, but it’s important you select the best problem-analysis model/solution that will save you time, effort, and money. This is the key to success. However, the primary rule when it comes to any problem-solving is identifying the need or the problem itself. And let me assure you, it’s not that easy as it sounds. Pinpointing the actual-root problem is the most difficult and trickiest job of all. Without understanding the real need, it is extremely difficult to deliver real value and to ensure that the solution chosen is correctly solving that problem.
And effective leaders will always find a way to determine the real problem and help their team members meet their objectives/ goals. In other words, they leverage the energy and talents of others by finding the right people, enlisting their support, building and motivating teams, and resolving conflicts/problems.
So, what’s the real problem?
Your organization today has to constantly adapt to the relentless changes – be they change to the law or changes in the marketplace, technology, or changes to the available opportunities. Furthermore, the rate of change is so rapid that we simply don’t have time to get the wrong result and deliver the wrong solution.
Therefore, it is crucial you determine and understand the real, underlying problem to be able to successfully solve them. And, always keep in mind – along with delivering the right solution, it’s also important that you deliver it quickly because time is money.
Here is a problem-analysis model that we are sure will help you
The problem-analysis model that we are talking about is none other than – ‘the Sudoko model.’ Undoubtedly, Sudoku is many people’s favorite pastime game. Did you know? The Sudoku game is the best example of a problem-solving tool. Inspired by it, there is a theory on problem-solving itself that many organizations today are fond of. In other words, the strategies that we employ to solve the sudoku puzzle can be used in real life to solve the burning personal and organizational problems and challenges. Without further ado, let’s jump into the sudoku problem-analysis model and its 9 main objectives.
The Sudoku problem-analysis model
1. Break down the problem – look for options
The solution for the problem to be solved may consist of many other smaller problems of varying degrees of difficulty. There may be more than one problem that needs to be solved. Similar to how a Sudoku puzzle represents many different problem instances that need to be resolved before arriving at the final solution.
So, the first step would be to determine those smaller chunks of problems that make up ‘the real problem.’ Post this, start looking out for options to solve these chunks of problems. This is also called a progressive problem-solving model. Remember, when you take care of these smaller problems first – the main problem disappears. Bottom line – one problem at a time is your mantra!
2. Multiple solutions – one ideal
There may be times where more than one solution seems possible. So, it’s too early to decide on a solution. Therefore, continue to solve other problems just like the ones in the Sudoko grid. And this will eventually reveal the ideal single solution that might solve your other problems as well. Bottom line – be patient and determined. This is your second mantra.
Remember, you are a human being after all with only 2 hands. And handling multiple problems at once is definitely a road to disaster. Though you may find a solution that can solve all your problems at once – you still have to take a ‘one problem at a time’ approach as discussed in the first point. In other words, prioritize your problems by focusing on one problem at a time. And see the results for yourself.
4. Focus: Problem-solving involves varying states of focus
While solving any problem, we recommend you either resort to 2 types of the thinking process – whichever works the best for you:
- Divergence: Expand the focus and perform a top-level search for a problem from the many to be solved
- Convergence: Narrow the focus on the specific problem instance and determine the specific solution
5. Test and validate
Most importantly, verify and validate every problem instance that you solve against the other problems as you do in the sudoku problem-solving grid. In other words, the solution you choose must comply with the rules of engagement – meaning everybody on your team should comply with it and believe in it.
Some problems can be quite difficult to solve, just like the sudoku puzzles. As a result, sometimes all you need is a tiny-harmless break. And trust me, the break will do you good. So, take a break and return later with a fresh eyes approach to hunt down and put a stop to the problems.
There is no defined or “correct” starting point when it comes to solving a problem. The first problem instance to be resolved will be as unique as the number of people involved just like the number of players in the sudoku puzzle. No matter where you start, the finished solution will be exactly the same.
While solving a sudoku puzzle – particularly when you are entering a solution into a square, you may come across some potential problems or solutions that may have suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The point here is – it is very easy to digress from the original problem/solution. And this indeed is true in the real world where “side projects” somehow appear to be the main focus. So your third mantra is – ‘stay focused regardless of the tangents your problems throw at you!’
Last but not the least, there is no pre-defined method or approach to determine what problem to solve first. The only guiding principles to discover what problem instance you have to solve first are the rules of engagement. So pay attention to the rules of engagement. In other words, always involve your people and take their inputs at every stage of the problem-solving process. Remember, if you win their support – your 60% of the problem is already solved! Because the remaining 40% is just the execution part of it. It’s as simple as that!