How To Improve Your Analytic, Creative And Practical Problem Solving Skills

How To Improve Your Analytic, Creative And Practical Problem Solving Skills

Creative solutions cannot be found using logical, analytical problem solving. Creative problem solving starts with feeling that an unusual, new solution is possible. Then you ask yourself many questions to free your imagination from the restrictions of normal thinking and assumptions. You have probably heard the phrase “thinking outside the box.” It takes uncensored questions to break out of the invisible walls of socially approved thinking to let your imagination soar free. Here are a few tips to improve your problem solving skills:

First, develop an accurate understanding of the nature of the threat, challenge or difficulty. You accomplish this by asking questions such as: What is the problem? What are the facts? How serious is it? How urgent is it? How much time do I have? What additional information do I need? Is this a problem I can do anything about? Must I be the one who takes action?

Second, ask yourself, What do I want? What is my goal? What kind of outcome would satisfy me? Does my goal take into account everyone who would be affected?

Third, outline two or more possible ways to overcome the problem to achieve a positive outcome. Then look at the risks and potential negative effects of each of your solutions.

Fourth, take action. It is normal to feel a bit anxious when you do or say something you have never done before.

Fifth, look at the effects of the action you have taken. Ask questions aimed at getting accurate feedback.

Sixth, learn from the feedback you get. Reappraise your understanding of the problem and the situation.

Seventh, modify your efforts.

Eighth, re-evaluate the outcome. Can you now leave the situation and move on to other things?

Ninth, ask yourself what you learned from this.

Robert Sternberg and his colleagues have conducted worldwide research to understand the kinds of intelligence that determine success in life. Sternberg, in his presidential address to the American Psychological Association in 2003, described three identifiably different kinds of intelligence used by people in almost every culture:

Analytical intelligence: Logic, reason and abstract thinking used to solve familiar problems.

Creative intelligence: Used to invent unusual solutions in new and unfamiliar circumstances.

Practical intelligence: Applied to solving situational, real life problems. People who are “street smart” are individuals who have practical intelligence, although they may use logical and creative thinking as well.

Many people without a college education are successful in life because they are very practical in how they handle the world they live in. Many people have an amazing practical intelligence with “things.” Farmers and ranchers are known for their ability to keep farm equipment running using bailing wire and duct tape. In many large office buildings, the chief of building operations — the person who knows how to keep everything running — is not a college graduate.

The key point to understand here is to think beyond any difficulty, problem or adversity to your desired outcome. Build your plan on new or different actions you will take.

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