6 Must Know Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making Techniques

6 Must Know Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making Techniques

Problem solving and decision making is one of the crucial skills that we need to develop in this fast paced life. At each passing moment, we need to make plethora of decisions for our living. It could be choosing your favourite item from the restaurant menu, or selecting your favourite lipstick shade while shopping.

However, these are simple decisions we need to make daily. Think about the crucial problems that you face in your life like choosing your partner, buying your new home, selecting your college course…etc.

Have you ever wondered that, are you making the right decisions? Do you understand the importance of those decisions?

How often have you said the words – damn! I don’t know how to resolve it?

How many times have you regretted that- Oh my god, I should have done this earlier instead of wasting time on this activity?

All these show the lack of problem solving techniques and decision making skills.

Understanding the problem and deciding the best solution is a special skill that can save lots of your efforts, time and energy. Moreover, this skill is needed in all the area of life.

Problem Solving/ Decision Making Process:

First, let’s see the problem solving and decision making process.

  1. The first step towards the problem solving process is, understanding the problem in detail.
  2. Then you need to think about the problem and come up with all solutions.
  3. Afterwards, you need to decide on the best feasible solution for the problem.
  4. Finally, you have to execute the decision.

In order to make the above process smooth and effective, you need to understand the below three things.

1.     Goal:

The foremost important factor that you need to understand in problem solving is

What is the purpose of resolving the problem? In short, what is the goal?

For example, you want to select the best gift for your friend. Here the goal is to surprise your friend on her special day with the most unexpected gift.

2.     All possible solutions:

Often we decide things on haste. We go by the first solution that comes to our mind.  That is wrong.

After identifying the goal, you need to find out all possible solutions to attain that goal.

In the example above, you will think about all the possible gifts that will surprise your friend. You will know what are her wishes and likes, so you might know which gift would surprise her.

3.     Selecting the best solution:

Finally, you need to analyse and understand all the possible solutions and selecting the best out of it.

For example, you might have listed down things like a book, a movie ticket, a diamond ring as possible gifts that will excite your friend. Now you need to decide the one among three. You feel that diamond ring is too costly to buy and the movie ticket is very less pricey, so you end up deciding that book would be an apt gift.

The above three steps have to happen on all decision making process in order to find the best optimal solutions.

Problem Solving Techniques:

Now let’s see the different problem solving techniques we can use to find the most effective solutions.

Simple Yes/No:

This is the most used method for our daily mundane decisions. This will resolve all the linear problems we encounter each day. This is the most well-known method.

Each day we take plenty of simple yes/no decision on our life. Few examples are

  • Can I wear this dress or not?
  • Can I exercise today or not?
  • Can I eat this dessert or not?

These are simple linear problems that can be resolved by yes/no answers.

Divide and Conquer:

This method can be used to find solutions for bigger complex problems. In this method, you need to divide a big problem in to multiple small problems. Each of the smaller problems should be assigned with a goal. By achieving all the small goals you should be able to resolve the big problem.

For example, you want to purchase a new home. You have plenty of personal criteria to buy a home. They are

  • Amount you want to spend on the new home.
  • The locality of the new home.
  • Transportation facility to the new home.
  • No of bedrooms in the home.
  • School facility near the home.

So instead of finding a solution to this big problem, you need to split your big problem in to smaller problems and assign them with mini goals.  For example

  1. I want to buy a home for 50L.
  2. I want the new home on a specific locality.
  3. I want the bus stop to be there with in 1km radius.
  4. I want 2 BHK rooms.
  5. I want the school to be in 5 minutes walking distance.

The above is the list of small problems that you need to resolve in order to achieve your big dream goal ‘Buying a home’. Each of the statement listed above is defined as measureable goals. Now it will be easier to find out the new house that satisfies these goals.

Trial and Error:

This method can be used if you don’t have any prior experience in the area where the problem has surfaced.

For instance, when I started my online business, I had no clue about many aspects of the business. So I ended up doing everything from scratch, repeated plenty of mistakes, learned from my mistakes, and retried many activities with alternate approach based on the lessons learned.

It is a lengthy and painful process. Since I don’t have enough knowledge on the area, I had to use trial and error method to learn the business skill.

Brainstorming:

This method can be used if multiple people need to be involved in the decision making process. For instance, you want to decide on which place you want to go to vacation with your family, then brainstorming will be the best method.

You can simply have a meeting with all your family members and ask them about the place they want to visit, how long they want to travel etc..

All family members will come up with solutions. The one that is feasible to everyone can be selected as the final go.

Assumptions:

This method is very useful when you want to decide on questions like whether this is true or not.

For example, you want to know whether Facebook surfing kills your productivity or not?

So here you need to first assume that Facebook surfing is affecting your productivity. Then you need to find all possible solutions to stop browsing Facebook.

However, if you think Facebook surfing is not affecting your productivity then you need to think about all other activities that causing you to lose your productivity.

Mind Maps:

Mind maps are an awesome tool to make decisions for problems of any capacity. It is a visual way of organizing information and finding solutions. Mind maps enhance creative problem solving.

For example, you want to buy a home and you have no idea on the criteria you need to consider while purchasing.  You might feel you don’t even understand your own requirements. But that’s not true. You do have an idea on what you want. It is just that you don’t know how to extract that information from your mind.

In such scenarios, mind maps will be very helpful. Write your problem on the centre of the page. Then write down everything that comes to your mind about the problem. This is call mind dumping.

Initially, you will stare at a blank page. Within few minutes, you will surprise yourself with the things that you write down on paper. Below is a sample mind map I created in few minutes.

Mind Mapping Technique for Problem Solving and Decision MakingThese are few techniques that can help you to solve the problem effectively. What are the methods you rely to solve your complex problems? If you have any interesting idea, please share it in the comment section.

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