What Is Problem Solving?

Finding creative solutions to complex problems

“It isn’t that they cannot find the solution. It is that they cannot see the problem.” – G.K. Chesterton

Everybody knows what it’s like to run up against a seemingly insurmountable problem. The problem with problems is that they stump the mind – they’re a roadblock that, until solved, can stifle forward progress on launching a new campaign, a product in development or a new service being offered.

So how can you work past these problems? The answer is creative problem solving.

Working Past the Problem

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

 Regardless of what has you hung up, MindTools says there are four primary stages in approaching and working past nearly any issue. For the sake of argument, let’s choose a simple problem to solve: where to get lunch.

First, clearly define your issue. If you’re struggling to decide on lunch, it helps to really define the problem. Do you not want to spend a lot? Maybe you don’t want pizza because you had it for dinner. Or perhaps you’re trying to accommodate other people with allergies or aversions. Figure out exactly what your obstacles are and define them clearly and succinctly to start with your problem solving.

Next, move on to generating alternatives. Now you are trying to circumvent the issue by finding the best solution. That can mean eliminating the places that don’t work to come up with a list of possible destinations. It can also mean the opposite – picking the places everyone agrees to and compiling a list of what might work.

Now that you’ve thought through some options, it’s time to think critically about your different choices. In this phase – evaluation and selection – you need to decide what plan makes the most sense. In our lunch example, you may all agree to one restaurant, but if it’s on the other side of town, is it the best option? Consider your options and discuss with your group to decide what plan is the best. This can be by eliminating factors like distance or price, or by simply putting the decision up to a vote.

Finally, it’s time to implement your solution – and enjoy your lunch! Now you can reap the reward of your problem solving and move on to the next challenge – staying awake through the rest of your afternoon at the office.

Pay Attention to the Problems

“We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.” – Russell L. Ackoff

The true problem with almost any problem is truly defining the issue at hand. Many issues can seem incredibly complex or convoluted, and difficult to narrow down. This can require a staged approach – tackling individual problems as part of solving the greater issue.

This is where creative thinking approaches can truly shine. Stepping away from your desk or working on something else for a while gives you a chance to return later with fresh perspective. Most of us know the feeling – a sudden spark of inspiration in the middle of the night or a flash of genius for one project when working on another. Changing your mindset sometimes may just be all that you need to successfully problem solve and get past your latest roadblock.

Think More Creatively at Space Between

“Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.” – Deepak Chopra

At Space Between, we specialize at throwing out the box and helping you and your team problem solve and creatively think about your concepts, ideas and more. As Western New York’s only ideation workspace, we offer a distinctive alternative to the conventional meeting destination, with blackboard and whiteboard walls to map out ideas, technology to make presentations and collaboration more convenient, and space to suit small- and medium-sized groups with ease. Located right on the bank of the Erie Canal, take your team out of the office and try a new approach when you book a rental at Space Between.

Whether you want to plan a problem-solving session, a teambuilding getaway or a strategic planning meeting, you can do it all and much more right here in Lockport, NY. Learn more or schedule a tour of our Spaces today by calling 716.433.7688.