Problem solving is a common everyday activity: getting the car going when it won’t start; finding out what led to a customer complaint; choosing the best PC and software for use at home; completing a difficult task to a short deadline; even getting the job you want.
Problem solving means finding the best way to get successfully from A to B. It is not a mystical process that requires special skills. It is an everyday activity carried out by everyone, often without thinking.
Even-day we come across situations where it is difficult to achieve what we want, or where we are uncertain what to do. We may have many options but not know which one to choose. We may know some of the answers, or none of them. Problem solving helps us deal with the situation, by bridging the gap between how things are and how we would like them to be.
We use problem solving to put things right when they go wrong. We also use it to help us improve the way we do things, and to achieve things we, and sometimes others, have never done before. It helps us to exploit opportunities.
In competitive situations we should always be trying to make improvements. Innovation through problem solving helps people and businesses find more efficient ways to operate and adapt to rapid change. Good problem solvers adapt more quickly to change. They can make better use of their knowledge and skills and generally achieve more.
Problem solving is a skill that develops naturally as we grow up and learn. We do not often see how it is working, but it is there in the background helping us deal from day to day with life’s problems, both at work and in our personal life.
If you understand how your mind is working when you solve problems, you will be able to improve the way you do it. This book will help you to do that.
It provides practical advice on how to:
■ recognize and overcome some common hindrances to problem solving;
■ use specific techniques to help with different types of problem;
■ generate a wider range of possible solutions;
■ evaluate different solutions to identify the best solution;
■ ensure that solutions are implemented properly.
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30 Minutes … to Solve That Problem by Michael Stevens (PDF)