We live in a less-than-ideal world. Things are sub-optimal, and this causes a lot of needless human suffering (after all, we solve problems because they cause human suffering).

Your success in solving problems is pivotal in nearly all professions, especially knowledge-based work which is more prominent nowadays. Whether you are a doctor, a psychologist, an economist, an investor, a consultant, your job revolves around solving problems.

Our problem-solving approach consists of three main stages:

  1. Identify ideal state
  2. Measure deviation from that ideal state
  3. Move things toward their ideal state

Those steps can be broken down into the following steps

  1. Identify the ideal state
  2. Ensure there is agreement on what that ideal state is (different stakeholders often have different ideal states in mind).
  3. Describe the current state (get inputs from everyone)
  4. Measure the deviation(s) of the current state from that ideal state
  5. Identify the causes of that deviation. This should include both root causes and minor causes.
  6. Develop a plan to tackle those causes and mobilize change towards that ideal state
  7. Monitor progress towards that ideal state, and repeat steps as necessary as the ideal state usually shifts