The first step towards solving any problem in life starts with understanding and breaking down the problem into a set of digestible pieces for well-thought-out decision-making.
All of the winning solutions or businesses in history were created on this very principle. Most entrepreneurs and business leaders use advanced approaches, mindsets, and tools on a daily basis to understand market dynamics, identify gaps, and implement relevant processes to build winning enterprises.
Yet most of us tackle problems head-on and right in the moment be it in our personal, or professional lives. All while usually regretting our decisions at the end of the day by simply avoiding the endless possibilities that the problem and solution involved.
This happens because most of us fail to understand the complete scope of the problem at the very beginning. Overpowered by instinctual energy, we jump right into the solution and recommendations. This may work for everyday mundane issues, however, the approach is not the best when tackling the many operational complexities of the modern professional environment.
For this purpose, we have compiled a list of advanced techniques and tools that will push your creativity to not only understand and structure a problem but at the same time allow you to dissect gaps and achieve the right outcomes within a limited timeframe. The continued practice of these techniques will make you fearless in approach and a reckoning force within your industry.
Finally, at any stage of your problem-solving efforts, you can get help from online resources. All you need is a fast and reliable internet connection to reach resources crafted by the top industry professionals. For this, we suggest checking out Xfinity in your area for all your online learning needs. For more information, you can contact the Xfinity phone number to sign up for a plan of your choice today.
Now, without further delay. Let’s check them out.
Hypothesis-Led Problem-Solving Approach
Structuring a problem means upholding a delicate balance between organizing all the issues surrounding the main problem and then prioritizing the most important ones to reach a logical conclusion. It is both an art and a science with no single solution set to a given problem as it always deals in multiples. The key here is to think of it as an iterative process where there is always room to improve the solution set.
Here, the hypothesis-led problem-solving approach is a great way to understand a problem set with all its complexities and variables in order to devise a hypothetical approach and construct a final recommendation that fits the description. The approach is much broader and tedious in its entirety, though implementation of two of its logic trees within the approach can lead you to intelligent insights under any given circumstances. These include:
Hypothesis trees are based on a simple top-down model where you first analyze all the relevant data to devise a hypothesis and then break it down into smaller parts to approve and disapprove. It is a great tool if you are relatively low on time and the problem is too complex to go into detail.
For instance, if your initial hypothesis is, “I can improve the search ranking of my website through targeted on-page optimization”. Here the problem is that the solution scope is too broad to implement and you need to break it down into further solution sets to reach a plausible recommendation.
Here you can start with your main hypothesis and then break it down into component sections like this:
Now, notice how this spider web is flowing. It flows from a general hypothesis to specific actions that you can perform to achieve the main goal. Issue trees on the other hand are completely different.
Issue trees are the exact opposite of hypothesis trees. Instead of beginning with an assumption or hypothesis, the issue trees start by breaking up the problem statement into simple and interrelated chunks or levels, and as you move forward, the problem starts to become increasingly granular or specific.
It starts by listing the main problem on the left-hand side while listing two or four branches of the main issue on the right-hand side for expansion purposes. Then you move on to list all the key drivers of that branch and the key thing to remember here is that those drivers should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive.
We’ll address this in detail moving on, but you have to remember, for now, that a single analysis should be able to address all the drivers for the sake of interrelatedness, and for that conforming to the MECE framework is highly important.
Lastly, there is no single way to do this. Nevertheless, you can begin by first coming up with a problem statement and then reframing it in two ways targeting different aspects. For instance, your problem statement can be, “Why is my website’s ranking falling?” You can divide and then further distribute this problem within an issue tree in the following way:
The abovementioned is a very basic two-level graph. It first structures or divides the main problem into two distinct issues in L1 and then lists the main drivers of these issues in L2.
There is no end to this as the issue tree can be expanded to an n’th level to list all the possible drivers of a problem. However, the best practice is to reach at least 5 drivers for each issue to build a clear and succinct analysis, which brings us to the MECE framework.
Remember when I told you that all the drivers related to an issue have to be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive right? Well, “mutually exclusive” means that no driver should appear in more than one category or issue, and “collectively exhaustive” means that you didn’t forget an important issue or driver and all the elements in their entirety represent the main problem.
All of this can be confusing at times but with a little practice, you will become a pro in no time.