Friday, January 22, 2021

When we are stuck with a difficult problem, structured problem solving may help

Structured problem solving is a simple CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) tool.

The key problem for many us is that, when we are faced with a difficult problem, and there are no perfect or good solutions, we may get stuck in procrastination.  Being stuck in limbo can be worse than bad news.  Our job then is to get unstuck.  

So how can we get unstuck through structured problem solving?

Here are the following steps:

1 We start with defining the problem accurately.  It is a very important part of the process because, if we define the problem incorrectly, wrong problem definition equals wrong solution. 

2 Next step is to explore ALL possible options including the bad ones.  We can write them all down.  We acknowledge that our primary aim is to find the best option, and accept that the best option can be still be a bad one, but at least it is the BEST.

3 Next step is to narrow down the list. First, we cross out the options that are a definite “no”.  These are the more obvious ones. 

Hopefully at this stage, we have narrowed it down to 2-3 options. 

4 Next step is to write down a detailed list of pros and cons for each of these options.  Explore those to facilitate a decision towards what is our best option, i.e. one with the most pros and the least cons. 

5 Then we take committed action towards the best option.  We can break down the task to smaller and achievable chunks.  

6 Review, check progress, and fine tune towards our best option.

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