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  • Writer's pictureRodney Alkins

How to think through problems effectively

Thinking is as natural as breathing, Anyone can think, it is a God given privilege for us to be able to think, other species do not get to enjoy this privilege or level of autonomy to be able to make decisions. However, all of us are not able to think effectively, leading to a lack of decision making or wastage from bad decisions. The thing about us human beings is that we never stop thinking even when we are not.

I have heard someone say, "I wasn't thinking," yes you were, but you were just thinking about something else or using some other thought process.

However, we have all had some level of thought results which leave a lot to be desired. It is a process towards thinking effectively, Some people are just better at it than others and this is a reality that we must accept that some people are better thinkers. You can ask a person to solve a mathematical formula and they think through it with ease to present the correct answer. Show the same person may be a prose in English literature and they may have some challenges. Point here is that we all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to our thought process.

Today we will look at 7 steps that can help us to think more effectively to solve a problem, even a mathematical formula or a problem between two people. So let's take a first look.

  1. Identify the variables or issues -

What exactly is the problem, do we know what we are trying to resolve? So let us identify the problem, call it by name, is it quadratic equation, a derivative or is it envy or selfishness.

  1. Understand everyone's interests. and understanding the rules of solving

When you ignore your true interests, which are your real needs which you need satisfied there will be no effective solution. So active communication must be present for all parties to benefit. If this was a math problem you would need to look at each variable to determine what it means by its placement in the problem.

List the possible solutions (options)

Possible solutions for a particular math problem may be easier or more limited than for a human situation. However, the solution must be satisfactory to the parties involved.

Option Evaluation

Evaluating the options what are the pros and cons of each solutions. Does it completely solve or does it partially solve and does it solve the critical path.

Option Selection

Select the option which yields the greatest satisfaction for the parties involved. Choose the best methodology to give the full solution to the math problem and not a partial solve, You will certainly lose marks there.

Document the solution

The solution will need to be agreed by definition if it is to be a solution to the problem. In math it would be the same as placing like terms together. It is critical to write down the solution and the terms involved, this will be a reference point if any party forgets. Show your working when solving a math problem.

Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation

If a variable is changed within the math problem we may have to try another method or strategy depending on what variable has changed and how it has change. This also applies to solutions which may have been relevant for a certain time and environment, but may need to be reevaluated if there is a material change. In addition as you apply your contingency resources which could include introduction of alternative strategies your will have to monitor and evaluate the impacts so as to determine whether more or less needs to be done.

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