Problems in life are inevitable. The more we have of them, and based on our capacity to deal with them, we can develop what is called experience.
What we call problems are the things that happen differently from our expectations. For example, if a project at work turns out erroneous or sub standard, you call that a problem. You would start an analysis process to help you fix it or find the lessons to learn for next time.
Today we can fly rockets up into space, we reached the moon and soon Mars. Since back in the 50s and 60s the scientific institutions tried so many launches. Astronauts died in flight. The scientists faced so many huge problems, but they learned from these problems until we got to where we are today.
Here below is a process that is a result of years of study and observation from some of the biggest problems that successful people faced. We can use these steps and apply them to any future problem at work, in business, relationships etc.
Step 1 – Define the problem without the emotion
When we face a problem, the first thing that happens is the emotional response inside of us. The emotion that develops inside dictates the meaning that we will give to this problem. Most people think they can’t control their emotions, and this is where this first step comes in.
When faced with a problem you must define this problem as objectively as possible and describe what has happened, regardless of how you feel about it or what it means to you.
I know that you might be thinking “but this is the challenging part for me”, and I agree with you it is very challenging. I just want you for a moment to imagine any problem you had and remember how you felt after you solved it.
You must be feeling good now that you are imagining it, and you might be saying, “how stupid that I got angry” or sad etc.
So just remember this first step. A problem well stated is a problem half solved.
Step 2 – Write it down
In the first step you took the decision to define the problem, now the second step and this is a vital step is to write down everything you know about the problem.
A pen and a paper are still you best friend in any difficult situation you might find yourself in. The pen will always draw whatever your mind dictates, so when you have a problem, put everything on that paper.
The first thing that will happen is that by writing it you are removing the weight of the problem from your mind into the paper, it will also give you the capacity to see the whole picture and start working on different pieces of the problem one at a time.
Step 3 – Consider who is involved
Write a list of people or organisations that are recognised authorities and are involved in this problem.
Whether they are colleagues at work that worked on the project, a client that is not satisfied with the results, a wife or husband that is angry with you, or a child who is having issues at school… Whatever the problem is include the people who potentially have an influence on the outcome of the problem. See who could have an active part in the solution and who you need to consider while solving the problem.
This list can also include external help, for example a coach or a mentor, an agency or a consultant, or another company that delivers the type of solution you’re looking for.
Step 4 – Personal brainstorm
You wrote the problem in detailed objective definition, you wrote all the people involved, now it is time for your beautiful mind to start juicing ideas and options for possible solutions.
I just want you to keep in mind that in this step we are not deciding. We must keep on moving forward with the steps, as we will rate everything at a later stage.
To help you on your brainstorming journey here are four rules that can help you better put your thoughts together:
1- No negativity allowed: when brainstorming you must block out all the negative ideas that might pop into your head, you must keep a positive perspective on anything you write down
2- Wilder is better: Yes, allow your mind think of any potential solution for this and dive into the imagination of the possibilities that can be in front of you.
3- More is better: Brainstorming is about creating as many options as possible. If you have one option, you really do not have a choice. If you have two options then you have a dilemma, because you can choose either one or the other and that puts a lot of pressure on which to choose. If you have 3 options or more then you have a choice and you decide properly when analysing what could be more possible for you.
Combinations and improvement is what you are looking for: you must keep in mind the objective which is to see all the possibilities and then see how you could put it all together.
Step 5 – Reach out
Once you have all the list start including the people involved and go out there to seek help from who can possibly help. Never shy away from asking for help. Seek advice, hire a service, and talk to people about the possible solutions for this problem and REMEMBER, keep all their opinions in writing so you can review them at the end of your research.
Step 6 – Group brainstorm
After the individual brainstorming and reaching out steps, it is time to gather your team. By team I mean the people directly involved in the possible solutions of this problem. Explaining the brainstorming rules to your team and start the session.
Step 7 – Rate the solutions
You have done everything, all the ideas and possible solutions or scenarios are on the table you need to rate every option you wrote down. For the rating you can use two main scales, the scale of Effectiveness and the scale of Facility. Here is what you can do:
- The scale of Effectiveness defines the level that the solution suggested can deliver impact on the results wanted. So rate each of the options with: “Very Effective”, “Probably Effective”, or “Doubtful”.
- The scale of Facility: this one will help you see how easy it is to apply this option so you can rate each option as: “Easy”, “Not so easy” or “Difficult”.
Once you have rated all the options, keep only the ideas that have high ratings. Then estimate the time and cost involved in implementing each of these ideas. When you find the idea that is best for effectiveness, facility, time and cost then….
Step 8 – Action plan
On a separate page, write the schedule that you will need with all the tasks and deadlines to achieve the final solution of this problem. For a simple and super effective way to do a schedule, “Start Backwards”.
Yes, start by writing the final result you desire to achieve with its deadline and then say to yourself, in order to have that happening what would be the step before that, and then ask the same until you reach where you are now and you will be able to see a full plan for your idea.
Step 9 – Finessing your plan
Now you have your best option and a schedule of the necessary actions. Now it is time to answer the questions:
Who does what? Where to start? What is the best way to do it?
Remember this is a part where you must be effective because the final step is coming, the one that will launch everything.
From the experience of some phenomenal leaders in the world, they all share the same thought that in making decisions you rarely have certainty, you only depend on the possibilities and your intuition to take that decision.
Step 10 – Take MASSIVE action
Yes, MASSIVE. Anything you do in life is an action, and there are four types of action: no action, average action, right action and then there is Massive action.
Massive means that after you have done all the research, all the analysis and planned it all, go all in and do what ever it takes to achieve the result you want. Make a definite time and date when you must put your solution to work.