What was the last time you sat for a long time and money to fix problems only to realize the issue you thought you solved was not the issue in the first place?
Understanding the root of the issue is essential to solving any challenge. John Dewey said, “A problem can be solved only if it is clearly defined.”
Here are two basic tools that will aid you in determining the root of the issue. One tool is asking “Why” questions, and the other tool is “change the action Verb.”
What is the reason?
Just ask yourself, What is the reason? A man purchased the tan suede shoes. A week later, after having purchased these shoes, the man was at the grocery store, reaching up to the top of the shelf for an oil container for cooking. The screw-top on the bottle of oil was loose and, when tipped, an enormous oil drop was sprayed onto the suede of the shoes. In between the brown suede was a dark ring of oil that was about the size of a quarter. The man was devastated as his brand new footwear was ruined. Before throwing them away, however, he would attempt to get rid of the stain. He tried dishwashing, dishwasher soaps, bath soap, baking soda, laundry detergent and a variety of combinations. The stain wouldn’t go away. It was asked, “Why did you decide to take the stain removed?” was asked. It was like suddenly there were new possibilities. In reality, the stain itself wasn’t the issue. It was the fact that they weren’t an exact colour that was the issue. “How to create a uniform color” warranted some attention. Then, it was an idea to apply oil on the remainder of the suede so that the shoes would have a consistent colour. A special oil specifically designed for shoes was bought and then applied. It was effective! The shoes were a bit darker than before but uniform in colour. The issue was resolved with a minimum cost and minimal effort.
The suede shoes are an excellent illustration of how examining the reasons reason why the “problem” arises could cause a problem and, consequently, shed light on other possibilities for solutions.
Change the verb
In the event of attempting to solve a problem, consider altering your action verb. The change in the verb could allow the sentence to be open to a wider meaning, leading to an array of possible solutions. For instance, I awoke in the morning and made myself in the kitchen to search for my typical fry egg white omelette. Each morning on a great day, I make breakfast of fried egg whites. I broke the eggs, separated the yolks and then put the whites in the pan. The pan was then placed on the stovetop on gas. It was on the stove., but I was astonished that no fire had started. Then I saw it: an empty gas tank was sitting in the alley just behind my house. I contacted the driver, who told me that the worker from my city cut into the gas line during digging. It could take some time before gas could be restored. What could I do? My eggs that were fried were in danger, and I was in danger of losing my “good” time was in danger. I immediately scanned the room to determine what other options were in place in order to fry the egg yolks. Then I realized, “the coffee maker has an element for heating.” I could place eggs in the egg whites pan onto the coffee maker. The element, however, did not heat enough to cook the eggs. I looked around. I found a popcorn popper. I could put them inside of the popper and place the eggs onto the element, and they could fry. Success! The eggs were cooked; however, the consistency was strange, and they did taste slightly sour, but they did fry!
I was so thrilled about my innovative problem-solving abilities. When my husband got home, I told him, “Guess what I did today!” I was eager to tell him about my egg fried dilemma and how I played with the coffee maker as well as the popcorn popper and was capable of eating my eggs fried. He stared at me with a confused look. He finally said, “Why didn’t you just make use of to microwave?”
Was that my brilliant idea? I was so caught up in my idea of “frying” eggs that I forgot my main purpose, which was to “heat” eggs. If I had switched the action of the verb “fry” into “heat”, I would have immediately gone for the microwave.
Two easy tools, 1.)”Why” and 2) “Why” and 2)) Changing the action verb could reduce time and effort when it comes to problem-solving.
Perhaps you’re on your next assignment; you’d be wise to also wear suede shoes when you eat eggs and omelettes made of egg whites… it won’t harm anyone.