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Published on November 4, in Decision Making. CreativityGeniusProblem Solving. Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.
This quote does illustrate an important point: Here are 10 strategies you can use to see problems from many different perspectives and master what is the most important step in problem solving: As such, it makes sense to devote as much attention and dedication to problem definition as possible.
Problem Definition Tools and Strategies The good news is that getting different perspectives and angles in order to clearly define a problem is a skill that can be learned and developed. As such, there are many strategies you can use to perfect it.
Here are the 10 most effective ones I know. Words carry strong implicit meaning and, as such, play a major role in how we perceive a problem. In the end, the problem is still the same, but the feelings — and the points of view — associated with each of them are vastly different.
Play freely with the problem statement, rewording it several times. For a methodic approach, take single words and substitute variations. A rich vocabulary plays an important role here, so you may want to use a thesaurus or develop your vocabulary. Expose and Challenge Assumptions Every problem — no matter how apparently simple it may be — comes with a long list of assumptions attached.
Many of these assumptions may be inaccurate and could make your problem statement inadequate or even misguided. The first step to get rid of bad assumptions is to make them explicit. That, in itself, brings more clarity to the problem at hand. But go further and test each assumption for validity: What you will find may surprise you: Chunk Up Each problem is a small piece of a greater problem.
In order to make your problem more general, ask questions such as: For a detailed explanation of how this principle works, check the article Boost Your Brainstorm Effectiveness with the Why Habit.
Another approach that helps a lot in getting a more general view of a problem is replacing words in the problem statement with hypernyms. Hypernyms are words that have a broader meaning than the given word.
Chunk Down If each problem is part of a greater problem, it also means that each problem is composed of many smaller problems. It turns out that decomposing a problem in many smaller problems — each of them more specific than the original — can also provide greater insights about it.
Some of the typical questions you can ask to make a problem more specific are: The class of words that are useful here are hyponyms: WordNet can also help you finding hyponyms. Find Multiple Perspectives Before rushing to solve a problem, always make sure you look at it from different perspectives.
Looking at it with different eyes is a great way to have instant insight on new, overlooked directions.Word problems Here is a list of all of the skills that cover word problems! These skills are organized by grade, and you can move your mouse over any skill name to preview the skill.
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