When he rephrased his request as “ways to make their jobs easier”, he could barely keep up with the amount of suggestions.
Words carry strong implicit meaning and, as such, play a major role in how we perceive a problem.
If each problem is part of a greater problem, it also means that each problem is composed of many smaller problems.
It turns out that decomposing a problem in many smaller problems — each of them more specific than the original — can also provide greater insights about it.‘Chunking the problem down’ (making it more specific) is especially useful if you find the problem overwhelming or daunting.
This quote does illustrate an important point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it.
Here are 10 strategies you can use to see problems from many different perspectives and master what is the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!The good news is that getting different perspectives and angles in order to clearly define a problem is a skill that can be learned and developed.As such, there are many strategies you can use to perfect it. When a Toyota executive asked employees to brainstorm “ways to increase their productivity”, all he got back were blank stares.While such an assumption may seem true at first, try challenging it and maybe you’ll find some very interesting business models (such as one restaurant in which customers bring dish ideas for the chef to cook, for example).Each problem is a small piece of a greater problem.But go further and test each assumption for validity: think in ways that they might not be valid and their consequences.What you will find may surprise you: that many of those bad assumptions are self-imposed — with just a bit of scrutiny you are able to safely drop them.Rewrite your problem statement many times, each time using one of these different perspectives. If you want to win, find out what would make you lose.If you are struggling finding ways to ‘increase sales’, find ways to decrease them instead. ‘Make more sales calls’ may seem an evident way of increasing sales, but sometimes we only see these ‘obvious’ answers when we look at the problem from an opposite direction.Play freely with the problem statement, rewording it several times.For a methodic approach, take single words and substitute variations. Try replacing ‘increase’ with ‘attract’, ‘develop’, ‘extend’, ‘repeat’ and see how your perception of the problem changes.