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How to think critically and master problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving skill is one of the most highly valued characteristics you can have as an entrepreneur. Improve this skill and you reap the benefits of saving time, making money and finding the next big idea for your business.

Professional problem-solving is the beating heart of amazing customer service.

Problem solving and critical thinking skills refer to the ability to use knowledge, facts, and data to effectively solve problems. This doesn’t mean you need to have an immediate answer, it means you have to be able to think on your feet, assess problems and find solutions. The ability to develop a well thought out solution within a reasonable time frame.

Following these steps will help you become a master problem solver.

  1. Identify the Problem. The first task is to determine if a problem exists. Sometimes when you think this point through, you may come to the conclusion that there really isn't a problem, just a misunderstanding. If that's the case, fine. If not, and you determine that there is indeed a problem, you need to identify exactly what it is.
  1. Now that you have a short list of what the problem might be, brainstorm all the possible solutions. The best brainstorming happens when you have the opportunity to bounce ideas off others. Get the right people in the room and think of as many solutions as you can. This is not the time to evaluate. The physiological brain process of generating ideas is not the same as evaluating them, and they cannot be switched on at the same time. They are both critical processes, but don’t turn off the ideation by turning on the evaluation.
  1. Decide which solution fits the situation best. Go over your list of possible solutions. Different situations call for different solutions. Quite often what works in one situation, may not work in a similar one. Take time to determine what will work best for the problem at hand. One solution usually does not fit all.
  1. This is another step that average problem solvers often skip. It does no good to come up with a great idea and then bungle execution on it. We’ve all been in those meetings where ideas are brainstormed and funnelled into a few doable deeds, only to walk out of the meeting and not knowing when or how the ideas will be executed. Fruitless. Come up with a plan to get your idea done. You don’t have to be the executor of the full idea, but as a problem solver, you have some responsibility for implementing the solution.
  1. Re-examine. The final step is to check in with the solution’s progress and determine if it is still the right one. There will be times when the problem still exists because the solution wasn’t right. Don’t throw in the towel. Go back to step two and get going on the next solution to try. 

Are you lacking with your critical thinking skills? Read more about our critical thinking training.

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