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Three Quick and Easy Problem Solving Methods

Want some problem solving tricks or techniques that are easy-to-use and effective? There may be a hundred good creative methods out there, inclusing challenging assumptions, brainstorming crazy ideas, or using a modifying word list. Many of these are really powerful if you want to invent something new or exercise that creativity.

Sometimes, however, you just need a fast effective solution to a real-life problem. In that case, it may be time to try some less-creative problem solving methods. With that in mind, when speed and effectiveness are a higher priority than radical creativity, try one of the following methods.

1. What have you done before that has worked?

Ask this and think carefully. If it isn't a problem you've had before, consider any similar problems from your past. Suppose you have a problem with your refrigerator. Should you fix it, or buy a new one? We'll suppose that you haven't had one break before, so you aren't sure which route makes more sense.

Your most similar problem in the past was when a clothes dryer that broke. You recall that you went online and found a clear diagram showing how to replace the belt, which fixed the problem. You immediately go online and find from the symptoms find that you can get the refrigerator fixed for half of what a new one would cost.

2. How have others have solved the problem?

This is the next quick question to ask yourself. For example, Bob has a problem with cats coming into his yard and making a mess all over. Looking at number two on this list of problem solving methods, he recalls that his neighbor doesn't seem to have the same problem, so he calls her. She buys cat urine in a spray bottle she explains, and sprays the entry points to her yard every few weeks or so. Cats think the territory is marked by another cat and so they don't enter.

This is an interesting, even creative solution. Bob, however, just had to ask a question to get this solution. Simply ask others who have had similar problems. You can also ask those who don't have the problem, but should. See what they are they doing. You can do this online too.

3. Sleep on the problem.

Allen needs to create a new product for his craft business, something related to the hand-carved walking sticks he is selling. It might be a new kind of walking stick, or something related. After running through all the problem-solving and idea-generating techniques he knows, he doesn't like any of the ideas he had. Then he sees the number three problem solving method here and decides to sleep on it.

Before he falls asleep, he imagines himself telling someone about his new product. "What is it," the person asks, and he replies, "I'll let you know in the morning." His unconscious mind is now set to go to work for him as he sleeps. He wakes up in the morning and realizes that in a dream he was explaining a his new invention to someone. He reviews the dream.

His new product is a walking stick with two thin metal bars recessed in it. They pull out to make a tripod, and on top is a camera-holder. It can be used as normal walking stick, and then when the hiker wants to take a photo, he doesn't need to try balancing the camera on a rock or log. He just opens up his tripod.

Ask how you've solved a problem before, ask how others have solved it, or just sleep on it, and see if a solution comes. These aren't the most creative problem solving routines, but sometimes a simple and easy way is all you need.


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