“Having a clearly defined, repeatable strategy is the easiest way to make problem solving more tolerable”, says Nicholas C. Zakas in How I think about solving problems.
Here’s Nicholas’s five questions to ask yourself:
- Is this really a problem?
- Does the problem need to be solved?
- Does the problem need to be solved now?
- Does the problem need to be solved by me?
- Is there a simpler problem I can solve instead?
Nicholas uses these 5 questions to help make decisions and prioritise his actions. They help make him more efficient at problem solving and in general, happier with the outcomes.
He says that; “Each one of these questions helps reveal something about the problem, so you can make progress or even avoid the problem altogether.”
I like this pragmatic approach to problemn solving. It reminds me that it’s not just about tackling a problem head on, but about considering the problem from many different perspectives. In some cases, that means figuring out whether it’s a problem worth solving in the first place.
To quote Charlie Munger; “..many hard problems are best solved when they are addressed backward.” It reminds me of the power of inversion.
- How I think about solving problems by Nicholas C. Zakas