We are faced with problems in our daily lives that may range from a simple problem to complex ones requiring well thought out solutions. Regardless of the magnitude of the problem, a solution is required. In order to arrive at the solution effective strategies need to be put in place. This article will explain some Problem Solving Strategies that are useful in various spheres of life. These strategies will help you no matter what the issue is; whether it is arranging your furniture, purchasing a house or preparing for a party. The field of psychology has enough studies that talk about the various mental processes involved in problem solving.
The various mental processes includes identifying the problem, deciding to solve it, understanding the issue, coming up with various solution, choosing the most appropriate, taking actions for its implementation etc. One thing is evident that the foremost strategy in solving the problem is to understand the problem itself. In fact if this first step has even the slightest flaw then the subsequent Problem Solving Strategies will become meaningless. All attempts will be futile if the actual problem is not thoroughly grasped.
The various Problem Solving Strategies are Algorithms, Heuristics, Trial and Error and Insight. Algorithms refer to a strategy that involves listing down a step by step process to arrive at the solution. In order to understand this strategy you can imagine solving a mathematical formula. However, it may not be practical in situations where time is short and the solution needs to be arrived at, quickly. In heuristics, it is possible to downsize the number of solutions to a few which makes the choice easier and faster.
Perhaps the most commonly practiced among the various Problem Solving Strategies is trial and error. Here you can try using a number of solutions one after another and then eliminating the ones that do not work. This is however practical when the number of options to solve the problem is few. If there are a large variety of solutions it is better to try other strategies. Sometimes when attempting to solve a problem, you may gain a sudden insight where the answers or the solutions become very clear and you also become 100% sure of its effectiveness. This happens especially if the problem at hand is somewhat similar to one solved before.
Although the Problem Solving Strategies seem relatively simple; there can be a few obstacles that you may face in implementing them. One obstacle known as functional fixedness refers to situations when an individual fails to see solutions from various perspectives. There might be too much information making it difficult to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information. Another obstacle may be the assumptions that people make which may or may not be right. Then there is the tendency of certain people to only solve issues in the ways that they have been doing in the past. Such people have a mental set that stops them from thinking or utilizing new or more creative ideas. They assume that only solutions that have worked in the past are right.