When you are faced with a problem, how do you go about solving it?
We all have problems, but some of us let them overwhelm us, while others seem to manage to tackle them head on.
One of my mentors, Brian Tracy, outlined his 10 Step Creative Problem Solving Process that you can also use to think systematically.
1) Change Your Language About the Problem From Negative to Positive
Instead of using the word problem, use the word situation, or call it a challenge or an opportunity.
The more positive your language is, the more confident and optimistic you will be when approaching any difficulty.
The more creative and insightful you will be in identifying creative solutions and breakthrough ideas.
2) Define the Situation or Problem Clearly
What exactly is the challenge you are facing?
What is causing you the stress and anxiety?
What is causing you to worry?
Why are you unhappy?
Write it out clearly in detail.
3) Use Critical Thinking to Approach the Problem From Several Different Directions
Ask, “What else is the problem?”
Don’t be satisfied with a superficial answer.
Look for the root cause of the problem rather than get sidetracked by the symptom.
Approach the problem from several different directions.
Brainstorm different solutions, because there are likely multiple solutions to the same problem, not just one.
4) Clearly Define the Ideal Solution to the Problem
What exactly must the solution accomplish?
What ingredients must the solution contain?
What would your ideal solution to this problem look like?
Define the parameters clearly.
5) Pick the Best Solution to Solve Your Challenge
Pick the best solution by comparing your various possible solutions against your problem, on the one hand, and your ideal solution, on the other.
What is the best thing to do at this time under the circumstances?
6) Prepare For the Worst Possible Outcome and How to Overcome it
Before you implement the decision, ask, “What’s the worst possible thing that can happen if this decision doesn’t work?”
If your solution doesn’t work be ready to accept that and try something else.
7) Measure Your Progress
Set measures on your decision.
How will you know that you are making progress?
How will you measure success?
How will you compare the success of this solution against the success of another solution?
8) Take Complete Responsibility for Your Decision
Accept complete responsibility for implementing the decision.
Many of the most creative ideas never materialize because no one is specifically assigned the responsibility of carrying out the decision.
9) Set a Deadline for When Things Should Be Solved
A decision without a deadline is a meaningless discussion.
If it is a major decision and will take some time to implement, set a series of short-term deadlines and a schedule for reporting.
With the deadlines and sub-deadlines, you will know immediately if you are on track or if you are falling behind.
You can then use your creative thinking to alleviate further bottlenecks or choke points.
10) Take action and Solve Your Problem!
Develop a sense of urgency.
The faster you move in the direction of your clearly defined goals, the more creative you will be.
The more energy you will have.
The more you will learn.
And the faster you will develop your capacity to achieve even more in the future.
You can solve any problem, overcome any obstacle or achieve any goal that you can set for yourself by using your wonderful creative mind and then taking action consistently and persistently until you attain your objective.
Success is a mark of a creative thinker, and when you use your ability to think creatively, your success can be unlimited.