Jump-Start Your Process
Analyze a Problem
Much of our day-to-day thinking is mechanical—the prerecorded thoughts and ideas that pop into our heads without conscious effort. To think critically about problems, we must break through mechanical thinking and consciously focus on the causes. Start the process by answering these questions about a problem you face.
- Who is involved (those causing the problem, those affected, and those trying to solve it)?
- What exactly is the problem (define it)?
- Where does the problem take place?
- When does the problem occur?
- Why does the problem occur?
- How does the problem become apparent?
- List as many causes of the problem as you can.
- List as many effects of the problem as you can.
Brainstorming quickly spins out ideas about a topic. In this case, the topic is a problem, and your ideas are solutions. The initial goal is volume—producing many possibilities, even absurd ones. After you finish brainstorming, you can decide which solutions have promise. Try it out!
- Get out a piece of paper or open a blank document.
- Write the problem you defined in the last activity.
- Set a timer for five minutes.
- Rapidly list as many ideas for solutions as you can. Write down every suggestion—even wild ideas. Don't pause to judge, which will only stifle your creativity.
- Choose a solution to explore further.