When I started my career as an engineer in 2018, I struggled to find solutions to complex problems.
Since then, I have studied what the best engineers do to solve those problems. Believe it or not, the framework is simple. You don’t need a fancy degree to learn problem-solving.
Unfortunately, most people struggle to implement a Productive Thinking Model. Here is how you can step up your problem-solving game:
1. Ask, “What's going on?”
Understanding what problem needs to be solved is the first step.
Define a vision as to how this problem will be solved. I recommend you document everything you develop during this step. Create a framework for what needs to be solved and ensure you understand it clearly.
This simple technique allows you to achieve clarity.
2. Ask, “What's success?”
Use the DRIVE framework and ask:
- What do you want the solution to do?
- What are the restrictions? What must it not do?
- What resources can we invest in this?
- What values should the solution have?
- What are the essential outcomes?
Keep it simple and keep documenting your answers,
3. Ask, “What's the question?”
Focus on the “Catalytic Questions.
At the beginning, asking the right questions will get drive you towards your answer.
Use this to formulate your question.
- How might we…?
- How can I…?
- What if we….?
Think big picture
4. Generate answers
You have laid a strong foundation, and now it is time to start finding answers.
Avoid judging out-of-the-box ideas. Instead, generate as many ideas as possible. You'll unlock better solutions if you avoid judging and focus on brainstorming.
5. Forge the solution
After you have evaluated all the angles to the problem, it is time to work on a solution.
Evaluate the ideas from the questions you generated. Develop a solution you trust will work and explore ways to improve it. If you are working on a team, get buy-in from others.
Do these 3 things, and you'll be wildly successful.
6. Align resources
Now it's time to execute the solution.
Write down what actions require which resources. Then, Identify people who can help you make it happen. Finally, Time to take action.
To recap: use this 6-step Productive Thinking Model to solve any problem.
1/ Ask, “What's going on?”
2/ Ask, “What's success?”
3/ Ask, “What's the question?”
4/ Generate answers
5/ Forge the solution
6/ Align resources
That's a wrap!