How we solve big problems
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We break down the process of seeing the big picture in order to bigger problems.

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November 16, 2014

FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU WANT IS THE HARDEST PART

When faced with big challenges finding solutions to them can seem daunting and unrealistic. Determining the best outcome is essential to uncover the right solution. Most of the time all that is needed is a plan, but creating a solid strategy is easier said than done.

Knowing any problem can be solved by systematically applying a framework for tackling each problem presented to us. In order to make a plan we must spend time visualizing the best possible outcome and define the criteria for success. Once our vision and solution criteria are clearwe are able to work backwards from our goal to achieve success with a lot less stress than we anticipated. Every plan is completed with a series of small tasks, I would like to share a framework we have created to determine the right tasks for any goal.

START WITH THE END GOAL

If there were no restrictions what would be the best possible outcome, and why? Start with the best possible outcome and determine the steps to work backwards. By removing the limitations it allows us to look at the problem from new angles to determine metrics that define the end goal.

On a recent trip I joked about how it would be the “best” flying private, It is of course more comfortable, with better service and more convenient. So why do only the very few of us fly private, because when the cost factor that gets worked into the solution criteria private planes are not the “best” solution.

CREATE TRACKABLE CRITERIA

Robin S. Sharma is famous for saying “what gets measured gets improved. By creating a series of quantifiable criteria we will have measurements to evaluate our success and determine what factors we need to change. Whether it is “Keep cost under $500”, or a “Deadline of Dec 31st,” creating goals that are trackable keeps us focused on success . Measurable criteria also narrows down the number of solutions to the challenge allowing us to find evaluate plans objectively in early phases. Once you have outlined the goal and quantitative metrics the foundation for a successful strategy is in place. 

START BY MAKING AN ACTION PLAN

The most exciting part of the process is creating the strategy itself. With your goals and limitations clearly mapped, you can craft a plan-of-action to make your idea happen. Embrace the process, as you move through the pieces of crafting the strategy you work towards a tangible solution that ignites enthusiastic action to reach your goal.

DOUBLE CHECK THE MATH

Measure twice, cut once. Before solidifying your strategy look at the criteria you have established and revise accordingly. It is important to double-check your metrics to validate your plan. For example, if your goal is to save $1000 in a year, you might consider making a commitment to depositing $20/week in a bank account. In order to make this happen we will need extra criteria in order to earn the money. A 12 year old mowing lawns might consider the need to find 1 or 2 new customers whose lawn they will mow each week, or adjust the amount of time it will take to save that money.

STAY FLUID

In life, change is the only constant! Evaluate as things move along and don’t be frightened to make changes. Remember that lawn mower? Well when gas prices go up the 12 year old might need to look at charging more, finding an extra client or moving the goal date. Likewise, if you are ahead of target, you can finish early or move the finish line. By evaluating our goals, tracking our progress and monitoring metrics we can confirm that pitfalls are merely a setback and not the end.

THE BREAK DOWN

Challenges always seem biggest when we look at the whole picture, but when we look at the “problem”, identify our “end goal” and then break down the steps in between into easily manageable and measurable criteria, we have a framework to fall back on that takes the stress, and the guess work, out of problem solving. Here is a checklist we created to help you create a plan to solve any problem.

CHECKLIST

  1. Define your goal
  2. Consider your limitations
  3. Outline a solution strategy for each limitation
  4. Create quantitative criteria
  5. Craft a plan
  6. Double check math and timeline
  7. Revise plan accordingly
  8. Constantly monitor progress and change as often as needed
  9. Achieve your goal
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