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Problem Solving – Step 2

Female Executive Drawing a Flow DiagramOnce we have accurately identified the problem, we can begin looking for solutions. Step two in problem solving allows us to tap into our creativity and think of choices to consider.

Step 2: Generate a List of Possible Solutions

This is not the place to limit your thinking.  Make a list of anything that comes to your mind without pre-judging any of them.

 In this brainstorming phase, all ideas are initially accepted no matter how outrageous they may seem. There is plenty of time afterwards to evaluate – in this step, just generate as many ideas as you can. Write down whatever comes to your mind.  Many times, these far-out ideas can become the catalyst for finding the right solution.

If working on a personal problem, ask friends to help you brainstorm solutions.  Since they are not personally attached to the problem, it can be easier to think outside the box.

We are often afraid to allow ourselves to think creatively.  How have you made judgments and decisions in the past?  What ideas are scary or you think unrealistic? Do they seem too out of the ordinary to consider? You can be faithful to your values and principles while being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

If we allow ourselves to remain open to new possibilities, we will discover many alternative possibilities to resolve our problems.  Encourage innovative thinking and discourage restrictions at this stage.  There is plenty of time to evaluate and eliminate the possibilities in the next step.

It takes time, thought and the willingness to risk and fail in order to find the best solution. It took Edison 9000 times of failing before he was able to discover the right filament for his electric light bulb.  In the process he experimented with thousands of materials and possibilities.  But he didn’t consider it failing.  He just felt that for nine thousand times he had not found the right solution.

In this step, if we expand our view of just a few options to one of thousands of possibilities, we will be open to discovering the best of solutions.  Become like children who loves to explore and experiment.

Remember, in order to solve problems creatively, attitude can become our largest stumbling block.  Put yourself into a creative mindset.  Relax and don’t worry about making mistakes and allow yourself to explore many different possibilities. Envision your problem as a challenge rather than a trial.  In this step, there are no premature judgments or comparisons.

Marlene Anderson







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