Pretend that you have a real difficult problem to solve. Suppose it’s difficult, due to the problem’s complexity. In other words, suppose the problem isn’t something like, deciding what pair of shoes you should wear, but instead, it 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. Usually, to avoid the pressure I feel when faced with such a problem, I’ll push hard to solve it. When I do, 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 a 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. I often spend an inordinate amount of time trying to solve the problem. Well, this “writing-for-learning exercise” is teaching me what I’m doing wrong when solving a (complex) problem. So, how should we approach these complex problems?
Perhaps, a major problem regarding solving problems is 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 a resolution when solving problems. Of course, we want clear answers. But, how can we demand solutions to complex problems and, at the same time, 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 over-analyze 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 in the solution.
When problem-solving, 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. To illustrate this, consider how the creative and subconscious part of the mind is involved when driving a car, deciding on the amount of spice in a meal or when choosing a friend. These examples might use analysis, serious deliberation, different perspectives, etc., but they also 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 and we should always bring it 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 our subconscious wisdom or “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, especially 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!
Does a complex problem’s solution require creative thinking? I don’t know about requiring, but in order to use the full power of our mind, it’s essential. :-)