6 Steps to Problem Solving

My youngest child came home from school the other day and handed me a paper explaining his second grade Open Circle session that day. The topic: Problem Solving. I am impressed that our kids are being taught such practical skills. This topic relates to everyone! These second graders were presented with 6 simple but smart steps to empower them to resolve their daily problems. After reading through the program synopsis I found myself thinking about how everyone could use this approach. In fact, we can substitute any words for “problem solving” into the method… Try using the context of conflict resolution, business planning or business development instead.  Here’s my take on the topic:

  • Calm Down.  Before we can begin to solve any problem, it is important to calm ourselves down.  Taking a moment to absorb a situation allows us to think more rationally. Emotional responses are never productive.  Often driven by fear and excitement, we can easily be distracted by the need to try to “fix” a problem before we understand it.
  • Identify the Problem.  Know exactly what the problem is.  Are there underlying issues driving the conflict?  Are there outside forces effecting behaviors?
  • Choose a Positive Goal.  Envision the most positive outcome and then determine how you may get there (or close to it!).  Sometimes it is hard to think positively when faced with a difficult task.  Take the time to turn things around to the most positive place possible.
  • Brainstorm Potential Solutions.  There is often more than one method we can take to achieve the same or a similar outcome.
  • Evaluate the Method to Reach Resolution. Once you have some options identified, consider each of the solutions, how they may affect those involved, as well as what the potential outcome may be.
  • Make a Plan.  Once you have weighed all of your options, select the best one and identify the steps needed to move forward.
  • Resolve the Conflict.  Execute upon the identified steps to resolve your conflict as efficiently and amicably as possible.