Problem-solving 101

Whether you’re an apprentice or a seasoned veteran in your industry, being fluent in the language of problem-solving is critical.

By 

Jessica Cara

Problem-solving

Problem-solving

By 

Jessica Cara

3 minutes

“To ask the right question is already half the solution of a problem.”
–Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology


Discovering better solutions than competitors is a key characteristic of all great business leaders. Whether you’re an apprentice or a seasoned veteran in your industry, being fluent in the language of problem-solving is critical.

In Episode 13 of Think Deeply, Speak Simply—Rockstar Problem Solving II—communications executive and professor Ajay Gupta informed us that adaptability and curiosity are key. No two problems are exactly alike so tailoring your approach is everything.

Here is Ajay’s advice on how to solve big impact problems with precise solutions.

Be curious

Whoever coined the proverb “Curiosity killed the cat” lied. Curiosity is essential for growth. It leads to better understanding, deeper knowledge, and more well-rounded thinking.

If there’s something you don’t know, don’t be afraid to admit it. Ask questions relentlessly to uncover new ideas and perspectives. After all, if you want to be a disruptor in your industry, you need to know what’s already been done before.

Ajay’s advice: don’t blindly trust the experts or simply go with the flow just because it’s the easiest option. Have the courage to speak up and challenge popular opinion. And above all else, never stop asking questions. In fact, here are some of his favorites:

  • Why are things the way they are?
  • What are the root causes of this?
  • Why do things have to be this way?
  • What would happen if something was different?
  • How does changing something impact the whole picture?

These answers will help verify that you’re focusing on the right area of the problem. They will also help kickstart how to frame your solution and offer something different. This context will also help focus your lens and challenge whether you’re thinking expansively enough.

Structure the problem

Once you’ve dug deeper into your problem, be sure to deconstruct it into components that can be further analyzed in detail. Issue trees are a great way to achieve this. Acting as a map to your problem, issue trees break down your problem’s core question into different sections. From here, you can apply different analytical approaches and prioritize which branches are most important and relevant to your audience. Issue trees will also help you zoom in on the nitty-gritty details and zoom out to the larger picture of your problem.

Unlock your communication goals using these problem-solving tips in your next business presentation.
Catch up on the full Ajay Gupta episode
here.

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