In our day to day life, we run into all kinds of bigger and smaller problems. If we can deal with them in a more effective way, we should be able to increase the number of things we can get done successfully.

There are four basic steps in solving a problem:

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Generating alternatives
  3. Evaluating and selecting alternatives
  4. Implementing a solution

A couple of thoughts:

  • Definition is often overlooked. It is really easy to skip over to the solutions in order to save time. But if you don't understand the problem, no solution will ever be the best possible outcome.
  • We're often blind for good alternatives. If we're too focussed on our initial idea, we throw away lots of ideas that could potentially be better.
  • We're scared to decide too early. The nice thing about a lot of decisions that it is quite easy to revert them. Because of that, we could try to decide faster to see what happens. The very act of deciding can trigger both new energy and a new way of thinking: “if we really are doing X, that means that […] so we should […]”.
  • We're not doing proper followup. We make a lot of decisions, but we don't actually get better because we don't have data. A lot of returning decisions can be improved by logging what we did and measuring. This can apply to hiring, planning, travelling or even common things like sleeping.