Problem solving in its simplest terms is about closing the gap from where you are now to where you want to be.  Stated like this, it sounds simple.

However in reality you likely find problem solving, closing the gap is often not straight forward, rather it can be fraught with challenges and issues.

What is the problem?

So why are things not always as straight forward as you expect them to be?  There are a number of answers to that question.

I would like to explore the answer that lies in understanding link between your approach to problem solving, the journey of problem solving and mindsets.

Goal vs Hypothesis?

A goal is the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

A hypothesis is one of the possible explanation of a goal made on the basis of limited evidence.  It provides a starting point for further investigation,  to clarify and confirm the goal.

Setting Goals

Do you begin problem solving by stating a goal.  The goal describing what you desire.  Do you then apply something akin to the SMART principle and possibly identify key actions.

It all sounds good so far.  However do you know this approach can unwittingly lead you awry.

Implied in the approach you have adopted is things will go to plan, that if yiu follow your actions you will arrive at your goal.

Create a hypothesis

Stephen R Covey said “the way we see the problem is the problem”.

I am saying the way we often approach the problem can also be the problem.

What to do?  Consider replacing your goal statement with a hypothesis statement.

It will encourage you to adopt a different mindset as to how to solve your problem.  It will also encourage you to place more focus of your experience of the journey, to see value in your journey to close the gap.

Creating a hypothesis calls for a different mindset.

  • It assumes you accept you have limited information.
  • You are not certain you have the right answer.
  • You will take on board insights and learning’s as you progress.

Approach and mindset

A mindset determines how you view and experience the world.   It reflects your core principles, the principles that underpin your beliefs, your perceptions and attitudes.

The term progressionist is my new word to offer.  It does not exist in the dictionary.  But let’s put aside grammar.

It describes a mindset more aligned to seeing the process of problem solving as being iterative and/or progressive.

It implies:

  • You are testing your answer, not confirming it.
  • Closing the gap toward the desired goal is an iterative or progressive process.
  • You have reasonable expectation that challenges will form part of your evidence.
  • You are open to your original hypothesis not being the actual solution.
  • You will be rewarded for each step in progress you make, creating motivation to continue your journey.

Compare this to a perfectionist mindset.  One more likely associated:

  • Fixed beliefs, perceptions and attitudes.
  • To see things as black and white; there is or is not an answer.
  • At worst, to assume they know the answer already.
  • To view that reward only comes once you have achieved the goal.

I also invite you to experiment with adopting a progressionist mindset.

What next?

  1. Explore creating a hypothesis when problem solving.
  2. Explore adopting a progressionist mindset.
  3. Embrace problem solving as an iterative and progressive journey.
  4. Expect to discover insights and new unexpected learning’s.
  5. View problem solving as a series of experiments that close the gap from where you are to where you want to be.
  6. Expect to be rewarded by achieving each step in your problem solving journey.

Good luck.

If you would like to explore how to evolve, refine or develop a different mindset call or email me.

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