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The world is full of problems to be solved. If you are lucky your day is full of problems as an information worker. Some problems are more fun than others to solve but all problems require solutions – even if that solution is ignoring the problem.

While people generally consider themselves good problem solvers, they rarely are as good as they think. The better a person becomes at problem solving the quicker her career will progress.

While some aspects of being a problem solver are natural aptitudes, everyone can and must solve problems as an information worker and it is something you can and will get better at by following some simple rules:

  • Positive attitude: Start with a can do, positive attitude to every problem that is before you. It is amazing how problems get easier and ideas come quicker when you have a positive attitude. When your manager talks about a new problem needing to be solved say, “Yes, I will solve that”.
  • Ask questions: Finding solutions to problems requires a good understanding of the problem and its root cause. Asking questions and getting facts is a key part of solving problems.
  • Think long term, not short term: Often times the root cause of a problem is hard to determine but without finding it the problem will persist. People are often tempted to find the short-term solution but that often only results in another problem arising. Instead make sure to think long term and try to identify the root cause of problems and best way to resolve.
  • Learn from others: You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. But, you need to be able to ask for help and get advice from others. Many times others will have seen similar problems and have ideas to help.
  • Be creative: Creativity is something everyone is capable of but as we get older often we don’t focus on this important skill. When approaching a problem take a look at many angles and do the proverbial “out of the box” thinking. Not all solutions will be creative but often times the most challenging problems will mandate it.
  • Try, try, and try again: Hard problems are hard for a reason. Your first solution will not always be the cure. Just like a good scientist applies the scientific method and has a theory and tests it so to will an information worker solve a problem. There will be trail and error but in the end persistence and grit will lead to success.

Next time a difficult problem arises at work or home take it and apply the steps above and get better at solving problems. Just like most activities you can and will get better at problem solving with practice and applying the rules above.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: Filling In a Crossword Puzzle via photopin (license)