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1. Define the problem

Defining the problem (or framing the problem) is about identifying the right problem: identifying the key question as well as its environment, and summarizing all the relevant information in a problem identification card.

Borrow ideas from other disciplines

“Problem solving in medicine is not the same as in military” or so the thinking goes. Of course, there are obvious differences and these differences call for specialized training. But there are also common denominators, and it’s to your benefit to recognize when you can borrow ideas from other disciplines. Refrain […]

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Be a generalist / strategic thinker as well as a specialist

Effective problem solvers have both deep and broad knowledge. Depth of knowledge usually isn’t the problem, because it is the central component of many formal training programs. However, most of us don’t receive much training on developing the broad, transferable or generalist skills that make us good strategic thinkers. So you […]

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Leverage analogies

Using analogies can help you approach new, unfamiliar problems creatively, but they can also be constraining. To sidestep this limitation, understand your assumptions and look for alternative analogies. Analogies can help you approach unfamiliar problems Facing an unfamiliar problem, using an analogy (or its close cousin, the metaphor) can help you […]

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Manage your confirmation bias

Confirmation bias—seeking and interpreting evidence partially so as to support one’s beliefs—is so destructive that it can render your analysis useless. And chances are, you are a victim of it. Raymond Nickerson, a psychology professor at Tufts University, found evidence of confirmation bias in a number of disciplines. (His 1998 […]

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