In life, whether it be in personal matters or business affairs, things do not always go to plan and you are certain to encounter problems at some stage. It may be a minor thing like losing your internet connection or missing your train, or there could be a major problem like fire or a mechanical breakdown.
The important thing is that you have in place a way of handling problems and then solving them. There have been many problem solving processes designed by business managers and consultants for use in the work environment but you may equally find them useful in other aspects of your life.
With all methods though there are some key steps that you need to take. Here they are for you to consider:
#1 Acknowledge The Problem
This is not always as obvious as it seems as sometimes you will ignore what you believe to be small things in order to get your work done or task completed. This will only cause problems later, so the sooner the problem is acknowledged the quicker you can overcome it. So be brave and face facts if things aren’t going right.
#2 Define The Problem
It is important that you are clear and precise in stating what the problem is. Write down precisely what is, or isn’t, happening to cause you difficulties.
#3 Identify The Cause
It is essential that you know what is causing the problem before you can start work on resolving it. If other people are affected be sure to get them involved and if possible get a group together and brainstorm the possible causes. That means simply writing down everything that comes to mind and should be done to a set timescale, say 30 minutes, and you should not pre-judge anything as things may come to light that you had not thought of. For example you could discover that a problem is occurring because you or someone else have not been adequately trained to carry out a task.
#4 Define The Expectations of The Outcome
It is vital that you know precisely what result you want to achieve by resolving the problem. Define what the ultimate outcome should be and put in place a way of measuring your success.
#5 Identify A Solution
Once again you should involve any other people who are affected by the problem and use the same brainstorming method as before to identify possible solutions. Then you need to come up with a shortlist before deciding on the solution that is best.
#6 Select The Best Solution
You need to take your shortlist and decide which is the best way of dealing with the problem. You need to look at four factors;
Feasibility – how realistic is it?
Contribution to Objective – does it solve the problem in the way you have identified as the required outcome and to what extent?
Side Effects – how will other people, your business or job, your leisure time, etc. be affected?
Cost – be sure you know the true cost. For instance if you need to go on a training course don’t just look at the cost of the course but also what it will cost you or your business in lost time. You must also be sure what you will gain by the successful resolution of the problem.
Then you should devise a way of scoring each of these factors against each solution on your shortlist. The one with the best score is the one you should use.
#7 Take Action
All you have to do then is implement the decision, make sure everyone involved understands what is required of them, and ensure you have a way of measuring the outcome.
Having a simple but effective plan for dealing with life’s problems will help you to overcome them and often realize that what at first seemed a problem is in reality an opportunity to make things better.