How Should We Approach Complex Problems?
Let’s say you have a real difficult problem to solve. Suppose it’s difficult due to the complexity of it. In other words, suppose the problem isn’t something like, deciding what pair of shoes you should wear, but instead, involves a decision about which medical procedure you should have in order to cure a serious medical problem. How do you approach such a complex and serious problem?
In my case, one of the problems I have to deal with first, is removing the pressure I feel for having to solve the problem. To avoid the pressure I feel when I’m faced with such a problem, I will push hard to solve it. When I do so without bringing in a large amount of patience, I often end up just “spinning my wheels.” Now, in a way, I “over-think” the problem. You see, I will look at the problem from every possible angle. I’ll collect as much information as I can – always, as quick as I can. I then, in my opinion, over analyze the problem considering the amount of time I spend in trying to solve it. So, how should we approach these complex problems?
I think the first thing to understand is that we generally, as humans, have a low tolerance for confusion. We want an end to confusion and have immediate certainty. This is what we want, but is this the attitude we should have when dealing with complex problems? Absolutely not!
Of course, we want resolution. Of course, we want clear answers. But, how can we demand solutions to complex problems and place unneeded time frames for resolution? We can, but we shouldn’t. Here’s my problem for solving complex problems, as I see it. I think I over-analyze it and end up being surrounded by the problem and unable to see different points of view, implications and/or consequences. I become immersed in the problem and not the solution.
We should always collect all relevant information and focus on the problem. Having stated that, I think we should also “step back” from the problem and trust the creative part of our thinking to help us with the solution. There is a creative, subconscious part of our mental make-up that we need to know is always there, even though we aren’t consciously aware of it. We use it, for example, when we drive a car, when we decide on the amount of spice in our meal or when we choose a friend. These examples might use analysis, serious deliberation, different perspectives, etc., but they also usually involve a creative part of our thinking that comes from a different and “unconscious” part of our mind. That is an important part of our thinking that we should bring into our approach to solving complex problems.
So how should we approach complex problems? We should not ignore concrete information. We should not ignore analysis. We should consciously add the “subconscious intuition” with analysis. It’s this subconscious part of our thinking that is an important partner with analysis and helps us do our best creative work. When solving any problem, including complex problems, we need to use creative thinking. We must create a solution. To create a solution, doesn’t it seem reasonable to use creative thinking? Turn your thinking loose!