Solving the problem is easy - once you understand the problem!"Read the Question." Those words were emblazoned at the top of the first page of my chemistry test. Unfortunately I failed to heed the warning. Instead I jumped in and tried to solve each problem as quickly as possible. After all isn't that what many of us do?
Turning in the exam and walking out of the room, I smiled at how easy it had been. When I got the test back, I did not smile. The problem was that I had not read each question carefully and there were a number of trick questions which were placed on the test to measure the our knowledge of the subject and also to train us to think clearly.
In problem solving we often fail to read the question carefully, listen clearly to what others say, or take the time to fully consider all aspects of the problem. Our problems in technology, business, religion, government, and personal relationships fail to be solved because we do not read the questions properly.
As a result we try to solve problems by treating symptoms without ever facing up to the real problem. We are often like the child who finds a hammer and believes everything in the house needs to be hammered. We look for a solution before we understand the problem. Then when we find one solution we run around using it to solve every problem whether or not it is appropriate.
We need to first read the question and understand the real problem. Once we are able to define the problem clearly, the solution or solutions become obvious.
It is not solving problems that is hard; it is in understanding the true problem.
The biggest example can be seen in bureaucracies. There are some in governments that believe the solution to every problem is regulation. So they want to regulate technology, business, healthcare, the economy, and relationships. Government regulation is the hammer and everything must be hammered.
But, in our own businesses, churches, and personal relationships we have a similar practice. We keep looking around for that magic hammer that will solve our problems. We attend webinars, conferences, and read every new book looking for the thing that worked for someone else, then try to apply it to our particular problem. We do this without a careful understanding of our individual problem.
Before we buy that new course or apply that hot program, we must be introspective and look at ourselves and understand our specific issues. Then we can pick the proper solution that applies to our situation.
You cannot solve a problem if you do not understand the problem. But if you fully understand it and can clearly state the issues, the solution or solutions will usually become obvious. Then we can pick the one best suited for the issues we face.