Often a complex problem comes before us and we don’t know how to solve it. Suppose, for example, that during the exam period, two assessments coincide and we do not know how to start studying. Or let’s say that when solving a math problem, we get stuck and don’t know how to get to the next step.
Dealing with complex issues can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than it should be. The key is to adopt the right mindset and use a methodology to deal with the situation presented to us.
Decisions in the face of complex circumstances or strategies in the face of difficult problems may require the application of problem-solving techniques to facilitate the way forward; through a series of known approaches or aircraft.
In this article we explore different problem-solving strategies and patterns that can be applied to deal with it and find a solution.
What are problem solving techniques?
Problem-solving strategies or techniques are patterns that are based on past experience and provide direction as you face problems or analyze possible solutions.
There are some well-known problem-solving methods that come into play when we are faced with a problem with no apparent solution for us. These methods are really helpful when it seems that we don’t have a viable way out.
To avoid wasting time when solving a problem, strategic brief therapy is used, which employs problem solving techniques to quickly analyze and solve problems. This approach makes it possible not to get bogged down in problems and give them millions of unsuccessful detours.
Examples of problem-solving techniques (and how to apply them)
There are many situations where people or groups get stuck. Troubleshooting techniques offer a simple and easy way to unblock the situation. There are four main techniques that people can use, as explained below.
1. Stage technique
Imagining the end goal or scenario is essential for effective problem solving. After identifying a problem, we need to ask ourselves what the scenario would look like after fixing it. We may also wonder how the situation evolves after improvements have been made to the desired outcome. By imagining the end state, we can better understand the next step to solving the identified problem.
Working in a version of reality that does not exist in the present or in the past allows people to discover the ideal characteristics of reality. Doing this can allow us to see things that would not be possible if we were limited to working with the current reality.
This technique, used by great inventors, it’s called “the fantasy of the perfect machine”. Leonardo da Vinci is a well-known example, cited many times; he faced the problem of how to fly, designing multiple designs of flying machines, which no one had previously been able to design or imagine.
Imagination can be unleashed by the act of thinking. Everyone has the ability to imagine a better future than their current situation. The only problem is that most people don’t know how to use this ability. The scenic technique allows to imagine the possible, to then implement it: the first stage is the brainstorming; then only feasible aspects are selected.
Although it may seem just a fantasy, the technique of the scenario beyond imagining the possible solution can indicate a procedure. This technique is used in a certain way by self-fulfilling prophecies, it allows us to direct them towards concrete results instead of letting them harm us. We all tend to build these kinds of fantasies, but the trick is knowing how to direct them in a functional direction.
It is also useful consider what the world would be like if a problem were solved, to get an idea of the collateral damage. This is due to the well-known butterfly effect; every time a change is made – however small – in a complex system, side effects occur. It is important to explore possible scenarios before making significant changes to avoid these adverse effects.
2. Technique to get worse
To apply the technique of how to make the situation worse, it is important not only to observe solutions that have already failed and have already been implemented, but also possible solutions that may fail in the future. this it allows a deeper understanding of the problem and why the proposed solutions fail.
To deal with the problem, we must ask ourselves how to make the situation worse instead of better. It is crucial that we try to list all the possible methods that could make the situation worse instead of better. Each of these methods must be described in such a way that it is clear how to implement the strategies that would cause our project to fail instead of succeed.
By considering all the possible things that could go wrong, a negative feeling is created towards this type of action. Therefore, We avoid doing anything related to these possible scenarios. If these solutions produce results contrary to our intentions, based on their avoidance, we must find an alternative method to deal with the problem. By taking a fresh perspective on the problem, a workable solution can be created that avoids counterproductive activities and blocks any action that produces effects contrary to our intentions.
When looking for solutions, most people will simply repeat the usual mental paths to find possible answers. By forcing the mind to examine failed solutions, new alternative solutions can be discovered through the contrast that occurs. By forcing our reason to find ways to fail, we encourage our rationality to focus on new ways of thinking. This allows creative processes to move forward without obstacles. Moreover, by getting out of the voluntary trap, we can find spontaneous solutions.
3. Climber technique
The technique is inspired by the practice of expert mountain guides. When planning a route, these they start at the top of the mountain and work the intended path backwards until they reach the start or base. This method is considered an improvement for plotting routes without deviating from the objective; it also allows them to choose the easiest path to the top. In addition, researchers have shown that this technique avoids paths or solutions that are significantly more difficult than expected.
Before attempting to solve a difficult problem, it helps to think about possible solutions starting with the end goal. And then consider the previous steps until you reach the initial state. Once each step has been imagined, we will have an efficient and effective strategy to solve the problem. To complete a goal, it helps break it down into smaller goals.
4. Writer’s block technique
This technique takes its name from the famous blockage suffered by novelists unable to write despite their efforts. The writer who suffers from this type of block claims that he has no more creativity and that his words will not succeed. Despite sitting at the typewriter and having an agreement with his publisher to deliver a novel, he can only write a few sentences at a time.
The problem is that the author who can suffer from this type of blocking has always implemented a method that required very little effort. before writing, he first developed the plot of the story, then organized the chapters into the order. These different episodes, once written, led to the end of the story, that was not decided in advance. However, this way of writing no longer works and the novelist’s greatest concern is that he does not know how to proceed in his work.
From the fact that the author wants to give free rein to his imagination for the development of the story and to go where it takes him; he prefers not to decide on an ending before writing the novel and for it to be a consequence of the story itself. This same thing happens when we block in front of a problem and we cannot find the exit; not having an identified solution we are unable to advance in the various stages towards its resolution and we give blind sticks. Instead of walking without knowing where you are going, the writer’s block technique suggests first deciding where you want to go: the end or the resolution of the problem.
Then identify the different steps or chapters that are needed to get there. Finally, break the steps down into smaller steps, until you have a series of easy-to-execute micro-steps. In this way, we advance step by step towards the final result.
In conclusion, when we are faced with complex situations, people tend to get stuck and take thousands of unsuccessful detours around a problem. The different problem-solving techniques allow us to take another perspective to clearly see the full picture and break out of the impasse in which we find ourselves.
- Gick, ML (1986). Problem solving strategies. Psychopedagogue, 21(1-2), 99-120.
- Lawson, MJ (2003). problem solving International Handbook of Educational Research in the Asia-Pacific Region, 511-524.
- Nardone, G., & Portelli, C. (2013). Knowing through change: the evolution of strategic brief therapy. Heir Editorial.