How to Change the World Through Effective Problem Solving

4 Steps To Solving Any Problem

The magnitude of the problems we solve will determine the size of the impact we make on the world.

Since 2005, I’ve been coaching and mentoring people to live their greatest life. Everyone I’ve worked with wants to make an impact with their life. The biggest problem they face is knowing how to do it.

4 steps to solve any problem

For more than a decade, I’ve been passionate about this same subject and have done extensive research on the subject. I’ve discovered that the best way to change the world is to solve societal problems. I will show you an excellent time-tested approach that you can use to solve any problem. I’m confident that if you apply this information, you will start taking the crucial steps to making your life count.

How to solve any problem in 4 easy steps

People have been learning to effectively solve problems since the dawn of time. When NASA sends a man to the moon, they have to solve many challenging problems to accomplish that. When doctors approach a critically sick patient, they use a modified version of the same time-tested problem-solving strategies. When fortune 500 companies tackle tough business problems, they use this same method. Below I share with you the same four steps that NASA, physicians, and the best fortune 500 companies in the world use to solve difficult problems.

Step 1. Define the real problem

A problem is like a tree. You see the branches with the flowers, fruit, and leaves. But to solve it, you have to follow the trunk to the root. How do you get to the real root of the problem? Here are some helpful methods.

Study the problem- Ask questions such as, when did the problem start? What is the extent of the problem? Where is the problem?

Examine it closely- If the problem is something physical, like a car that isn’t working, examine it carefully.

Run tests- Are there tests that you can run to tell you exactly where the problem is? Depending on the kind of problem, you may need to do surveys or polls to get the people suffering from the problem to tell you what their struggle is.

Step 2. Generate possible solutions

The second step involves coming up with many possible solutions. Helpful tools for this step include:

Brainstorming- Group brainstorming is one of the best processes for coming up with solutions.

Mind Maps- Drawing mind maps is also an excellent way to solve problems. They allow you to tap into your creative brain.

Decision Trees- A decision tree is similar to a mind map but is very different in that it has a time axis. As such, a decision tree shows a sequence of possible events as they could happen chronologically.

Step 3. Select the best solutions

Here, you evaluate each solution, weigh the risks and rewards, costs and benefits, and then select the right solution. Here is some advice for this decision making step.

Advisors- Involve advisors at every stage of your decision-making.

Mind and Heart- Make sure that you don’t follow your heart and forget about logic. Also, don’t follow logic and forget your intuitive heart.

Pros and cons- Draw a two-column table. In one column, write the pros and in the next write the cons and then judge.

Criteria- Have a list of criteria. E.g, if the decision is about choosing an employee, spouse, or product, the criteria should include must-haves (essentials or needs) and desirables (wants).

Risk Analysis- Another way to help with decision making is to do a risk analysis.

Think ahead- When making a decision, it is important to think ahead and anticipate changes that might occur.

Step 4. Implementation and Evaluation

Now that you have made the decision, you need to implement it and then continuously evaluate it to make sure that you are getting the intended results.

When a patient is in critical condition and their life is at stake, we have a problem. Doctors use the above methods to solve it. When NASA sends a man to the moon or the best of the best companies solve problems, they follow the approach above. You can certainly trust that this approach would work on any problem you have.

This was a guest post by Kenneth Acha. Kenneth is a family doctor who has been empowering people to contribute their greatest Life, Work, and Leadership to the world for more than a decade. You can follow him through his blog, KennethMD.com

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Thanks guys for reading! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask right here. I will be glad to respond as soon as possible.

  • Love this post. One additional item that I’ve added to following these steps is to remain calm. Perfect example happened yesterday at the medical clinic I work for. The power went out around 9:30 am, and was off for about 10 minutes. Some staff members (including a physician) was running around like the world was about to end.

    My first reaction, after discovering that the Internet connection was still up was that this outage was going to be minimal. People were coming up to me and saying when should we close the clinic. That’s a different discussion, on work ethic right there 😉

    I responded calmly, let’s wait for a bit to see if the power comes back, and also to see if the electric company alerts us as to what’s happening. Because our clinic is in a commercial area, those areas tend to get their power back on faster than residential areas.

    The event did bring up a need for a policy and clear instructions for outages such as this, but throughout those minutes, I was calm and methodical in the approach of addressing the need.

    It also showed me the true colors of some team members, under pressure. Plenty of coaching to do!

    • Mike, I definitely agree. Staying calm is crucial to problem solving, especially in crisis moments. It allows you to have the cool head to think and actually make better decisions. Congratulations on staying cool under fire at your job!

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