Problem Solving

During my years as a manager, I used several different methods to solve problems.  Here are just a few tips I found useful:

1.  Make sure you have the problem defined clearly before you go searching for a solution to a problem.  Those of us that have a little ADD in us tend to rush madly off down the path of "a solution looking for a problem."  Sometimes spending a few moments defining the problem can save a lot of time in the time it takes to find a solution.

2.  Sometimes it is easier and cheaper to "Do Nothing."  If you can live with it, leave it alone.  Most of the time, dust won't kill you.

3.  If you listen to the expert's, using Occam's Razor (Achem's Razor or Ockham's Razor) is a way to tell you that the solution with the fewest assumptions is the one to use.   If your solution is based on an outcome in the process, you should be finding a solution for that problem.  Example I seem to be broke a lot - Answer spend less or make more.  KISS - KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

4.  Open your seeking solutions to multiple inputs.  Ask a friend, read Consumer Reports, search on the internet are all ways to search.  the more ideas you have the better to see if any are the best or cheapest. 

5.  Ask friends to look at your decisions or outcomes or processes and have them help rank order them by assigning a number from 1 to 10 to each.  (1-bad,  10 good)  Don't have them put them in their idea of good or bad, but how do they see the solution working.

6.  Those that are introverted and not outgoing will think asking others is silly.  They will want to build some form of a decision tree and try to assign each way a value in terms of money or time.
Extroverts will want more people in the solution.  I have always found this to be good if you can include potential blockers in the process.  It may be harder to achieve consensus but once a problem is solved, it may stay solved. (longer)

7.  Expect the problem solutions to last about as long as it took to develop the solution. For example, throwing dice doesn't take much time and the results are instantaneous.  The outcome changes the next time you throw the dice.  The Military answer is that a plan will last until the first bullet flies and things will change from there. 

8.  Sometimes using a template to write things down will give you a solution. 
      a.  Write what you want to do
      b.  Write down who will do what
      c.  Write down when it will be done
      d.  Write your expected outcome.

Using number 8 above will just be a framework for problem solving and each time you can add more steps or subtract things that don't work for you.

Clearly, the decision or problem solving process is one that can be simple or complex.  One thing I always try to do is to also look at the unintended consequences of any plan.   Sometimes the things that could happen will help you decide what to do. 

IF your problem is money, I always recommend the Dave Ramsey way.    He will start you by helping you identify the income,  define the spending (fixed and optional), how to develop a budget, the review process.  Just by knowing what you need to do and what you did is enough.  The exception to this is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is insanity. 

In case you are wondering, by taking the time to write this, I have avoided running the vacuum but in the long run I have the time to do it later.  Problem avoidance doesn't mean it will always go away. 

Try to look at your problems from a different way may help you.  Or not. Jes' Sayn'


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