If you’ve focused enough on the problem or decision—really wallowed in it, analyzed it, and now fully understand it on multiple levels, solutions tend to naturally follow. That is, generating better solutions is easier. But here’s some ideas on how to make sure you’ve got a good set of methods for coming up with the best ideas you can:
- Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a process of generating a large number of ideas and solutions in a short period of time. This method encourages individuals to think creatively and freely without judgment, and can be done individually or in a group setting. Brainstorming is an effective way to generate a variety of solutions to a problem and can lead to new and innovative ideas. Brainstorming works best when people work “together, alone” and are allowed to come up with their own ideas before sharing. The person with the least status in the group should share first. The leader/decider should go last.
- Root cause analysis: Root cause analysis is a structured method of identifying the underlying cause of a problem. This approach involves breaking down the problem into smaller components, tracing the cause and effect relationship, and identifying the root cause. Root cause analysis can help to identify the true source of the problem and lead to more effective and long-lasting solutions. Use the 5-Whys or fishbone diagrams.
- SWOT analysis: SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that involves identifying an organization's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. By analyzing these four factors, organizations can identify internal and external factors that may impact their ability to solve a problem and come up with strategies to overcome these challenges. This is an old method but it still works.
- Mind mapping: Mind mapping is a visual approach to problem-solving that involves creating a visual representation of ideas and solutions. This method can help to organize and connect ideas, leading to a clearer understanding of the problem and potential solutions. Mind mapping can be done on paper or using software, and is an effective way to engage the whole brain in the problem-solving process.
- Collaboration: Collaboration means working with others to come up with solutions to problems. This method is particularly useful when dealing with complex problems that require a diverse range of perspectives and expertise. Collaboration leads to better decision making and a more comprehensive understanding of the problem, ultimately resulting in more effective solutions.
- Trial and error: Trial and error is a simple but effective method of problem-solving that involves testing different solutions until the best one is found. This approach can be time-consuming, but it can also lead to unexpected and innovative solutions. Experimentation is increasingly the only way to find solutions to complex problems.