half of the solution. In fact, the proper formation of a problem is often more essential than the solution.
So begin by making your complicated problem simple. Draw a picture of it. Create mind maps to get down key factors. Try and establish the relationships between key factors. Look at it from different perspectives. Understand what your problem means. What are the effects of your problem? Can you get down a very simple example of your problem? Is there a way of knowing what it looks like? Is there a way of testing it? Will you be able to tell if your answer is right?
Don’t dive straight into data analysis either. Having an abundance of information doesn’t guarantee you a solution, in fact it often clouds the solution. Instead, after the proper formulation of your problem, ask: what is important for what I am trying to achieve? What information will help me? Don’t randomly collect data, instead have a hypothesis, something to test, before you start collecting.
Also, in respect of problem solving, don’t abide by one method only. The result is what matters. So use logical and lateral thinking, consider alternative techniques, use whatever works. Do not rely on one-size-fits-all methods that limit your thinking.
Remember, Good Questions Trump Smart Answers.
Is The Problem Worth Solving?
Before even tackling your problem, use simplification in the form of Pareto’s Law. Does this problem represent part of the 20% of inputs that contribute to 80% of the outputs in the area that the problem lies? To simplify, is the problem worth solving? The first criteria to consider then is if the problem is important. If it’s not important, forget about it. If it meets the rule above and so is important, is it knowable? Can it be solved? If it’s not possible to solve, leave it. If it’s possible, this is your problem to work on.
Simplification By Doing Less
You see, simplification can be used everywhere. It often resides in what not to do. Reduce the complexity of things by stripping out what is not important.
For example, instead of looking for new ways to succeed and new things to add, you can achieve by cutting out what is harming you, such as figuring out what people or areas to avoid. Instead of doing more and making more decisions, figure out the few decisions that count and make good choices. Focusing on fewer decisions forces us to concentrate on them more, reducing our chances of making serious mistakes.
In a world where we’re constantly told to do more, faster than yesterday, resulting in lack of time, mistakes and fatigue; it’s often better to do less, but to give your full attention to each key decision and problem. Deep thinking on the key issues will produce a greater outcome than trivial thinking on an abundance of small issues. As Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with the problems longer.” So trust in Einstein, stay with the problems longer, stop being busy doing nothing, and you will see your results soar.
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