Solving Problems

Solving Problems

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A rancher left 17 horses in his will for his three children.

The will stated that the eldest child should get half of his 17 horses. The middle child should get one-third of the 17 horses. The youngest should be given one-ninth.

Because it is not possible to divide 17 into halves or thirds or ninths, the heirs started to fight among themselves as to the distribution. So they agreed to consult a neighbor.

The wise old neighbor listened patiently to the will. After giving the instructions much thought, the wise man brought one of his own horses and added it to the 17, bringing the total count to 18.

Half of 18 is 9, so he gave the eldest child 9 horses. One-third of 18 is 6, so he gave the middle child 6 horses. One-ninth of 18 is 2, so he gave the youngest child 2 horses.

He had distributed 9 plus 6 plus 2 , which came to 17. Then he took his own horse back.

Problem solved.

In this case, the wise neighbor started by acknowledging there was a problem and finding the “18th horse” — the common ground. In order to reach a solution, you must believe that there is a solution.

In my opinion, this lesson should be taught not only in every problem-solving workshop but also in every team-building exercise.

Too often, we make problems larger than they are by rushing to solutions. Methodical thinking, breaking down the problem into manageable parts, and considering unorthodox approaches are necessary skills that feed into practical outcomes.

Following are a few simple steps that will lead to more successful problem-solving.

• Identify the problem. Believe it or not, this step is often overlooked. You know something is wrong, but you haven’t identified it. Example: Sales are down. Reason: Inferior product? Ineffective sales force? Competition? Pricing strategy? Get to the root of the problem, or you will not be able to address it.

• Come up with a list of solutions. Let your brain roam freely. Even bad ideas can lead to good ideas. Stay open-minded and be willing to listen. Consider a variety of ideas and assess the merits and pitfalls of each.

• Trim the list to one or two solutions. Think about how those actions would best solve the problem at hand. Do you have the resources or personnel to put those solutions into action? Will committing more money help, or hurt elsewhere and create a new set of problems?

• Take action. Decide what your ideal outcome will be. What help will you need? What is your strategy when you encounter an obstacle? Do you have the flexibility to alter your plans if the problem persists?

• Finally, evaluate. If you have achieved a satisfactory result, can you sustain your progress? What changes would you make to improve the outcome? Can you use your plan to address other issues?

It’s helpful to have a strategy prepared for when problems arise, because problems are a fact of life despite your best efforts. Accept that, but you don’t have to surrender to them. Read on for a very creative solution.

A woman tells a psychiatrist: “Doctor, every night I have this terrible feeling that something or someone is under the bed, waiting to get me.”

“ I think I can help you,” the doctor replied. “It will require many hours of treatment and could get expensive. Each session will cost $150.”

A week later the woman called and told him she was cured. “Really?” the incredulous doctor asked.

“Yes . I told my husband how much it would cost, and he cut the legs off the bed.”

Mackay’s Moral: You can’t solve a problem until you first admit you have one.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail [email protected].

Darik Steinbach Headshot
Phone: 952-239-4290
Dated: July 12th 2016
Views: 131
About Darik: I have been selling residential real estate in Minneapolis full time for 10+ years. I constantl...

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