One of the most essential life skills, both in personal lives and in the workplace, is the ability to solve problems effectively. In today’s world full of stress, tension and competition, the one who can look at every difficult situation as a problem that can be solved, emerges as a winner. People who are able to analyse the problems they see around themselves with a calm and open mind and come up with practical solutions to solve these problems, are the ones who go really far in life. Take any field, and you will see that the ones who have really made a difference are the ones who have faced and solved problems in a creative manner, whether it is Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam in nuclear science or Mother Teresa in social service, M. S. Dhoni in cricket or Steve Jobs in technology.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines a problem as, “a doubtful or difficult matter requiring a solution” or “something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with”. Problems always arise when we work to reach an objective or a goal. Problem solving therefore refers to the actions taken to overcome the obstacles in the path of reaching the goal.
The art of problem-solving
Before starting to solve a problem, it is essential to first study the problem thoroughly. Albert Einstein says, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Here are some useful questions to ask before starting the process of solving a problem: Is the problem real or just in someone’s mind? Is this problem actually an opportunity to do something better? Does the problem really need solving or will it get resolved with time? Have we failed to see the ‘bigger problem’? What is the root cause of the problem?