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How to become a master problem solver

Problems. This is one thing that every entrepreneur has to deal with. But how can you become a master problem solver? What skills do you need to be a master at solving problems?

The top four skills of a master problem solver are:

1. Critical thinking

This type of thinking is the ability to think rationally and clearly about what to do or believe. People who are highly skilled in critical thinking are able to see a problem objectively and then identify the solutions and evaluate the pros and cons of each solution. Here is an exercise from to help you improve your critical thinking.


Think about something that someone has told you recently. Now ask yourself the following questions:

Who said it?
Someone you know? Someone in a position of authority or power? Does it matter who told you this?

What did they say?
Did they give facts or opinions? Did they provide all the facts? Did they leave anything out?

Where did they say it?
Was it in public or in private? Did other people have a chance to respond an provide an alternative account?

When did they say it?
Was it before, during or after an important event? Is timing important?

Why did they say it?
Did they explain the reasoning behind their opinion? Were they trying to make someone look good or bad?

How did they say it?
Were they happy or sad, angry or indifferent? Did they write it or say it? Could you understand what was said?

By practicing to ask these questions often you will be well on your way to thinking critically.

2. Business knowledge

Do you know how each of your departments work? If you produce a product do you know how it moves along the production line? You need to get your hands dirty and see how your business works. Not only do you need to have the book knowledge but you need to see how this knowledge is executed in your business. You should also attend conferences, read books and magazines, listening to experts in your industry and analyse the trends in your business.

3. Decisiveness

Can you make a good decision quickly or do you procrastinate? It is important to be decisive and come to a clear solution fast.

4. Communication skills

Do you inspire confidence and joy in others? Do share your ideas clearly and concisely? It is important to have good communication skills so that you can encourage others to share their opinions and give feedback on possible solutions to problems. By being able to communicate well and manage people well, you will be able to solve your business’ problems easier.

When you come across a problem, here are four steps to help you get to a solution.

STEP 1: Clearly define the problem

Sometimes small problems are the seeds of bigger problems. Therefore it is critical to analyse the problem critically and ensure you are solving the real problem. If you don’t do this the problem may continue to crop up in different ways until you solve it. You can get a clear understanding of a problem by asking why like a toddler.

For example:

Why are we losing the client? Because our prices are too high.

Why are our prices so high? Because we use premium products to create our goods. Why do we use premium products? Because we want to give our clients the best product.

When you start to get to the place where your “why’s” become repetitive you have identified the true problem in your business. Then you need to find a solution.

STEP 2: Brainstorm solutions

Now you need to write down every solution you could possible think of that could solve your problem. Try not to analyse the solutions while you brainstorm just write them down. You should also try to think outside of the box for a solution.

STEP 3: Analyse the solutions

The next step is to take the solutions and analyse them. Which are viable and which are not? Then you need to look at the time and cost constraints on the solutions. You should try to implement the most cost-effective and quickest solution.

STEP 4: Review your solution

When you have implemented your solution for a few months or week depending on how long it takes to be effective, then you should analyse it. Has it solved the problem? Has it created other problems? If it has created other problems then you may have to look at the problem again and start the problem-solving method again. 

Brought to you by the NSBC.