In fact, the best problem solvers actively anticipate potential future problems and act to prevent them or to mitigate their effects.
Problem-solving abilities are connected to a number of other skills, including: Identifying a problem is often the kernel for a new business or product idea – and, as such, problem solving is an essential ingredient of entrepreneurialism. Some graduate careers revolve around finding solutions – for example, engineering, management consulting, scientific research and technology.
Many assignments in subjects such as engineering and computer science are explicitly based around solving a problem in a way that, for example, essay topics in English literature aren’t.
But, then, English literature students may also encounter academic problems, such as difficulties in tracking down the best source material.
It provides a logical framework for problem solving and helps to select the best alternative from those available by narrowing down the range of possibilities (a convergent process)..
Analytical thinking often predominates in solving closed problems, where the many possible causes have to be identified and analysed to find the real cause.Your problem-solving abilities can be assessed in three ways: by asking for examples of times when you previously solved a problem; by presenting you with certain hypothetical situations and asking how you would respond to them; and by seeing how you apply your problem-solving skills to different tests and exercises.You may be asked for an example of when you solved a problem on an application form – for instance, an engineering firm’s application form has previously included the question ‘Please tell us about a time when you have used your technical skills and knowledge to solve a problem’. Typical problem-solving competency-based questions include: Interviewers will also be interested to know how you would approach problems that could arise when you are in the workplace.To be a good problem solver you need to be able to switch from one group of skills to the other and back again, although this is not always easy.Traditional education gives far greater encouragement to the development and use of left-brain thinking.Quantifiable results are good, and obviously the more complex the situation, the more impressive a successful result is.Follow the STAR technique outlined in our article on competency-based interview questions.Creative thinking is a divergent process, using the imagination to create a large range of ideas for solutions.It requires us to look beyond the obvious, creating ideas which may, at first, seem unrealistic or have no logical connection with the problem.Research has shown that, in general terms, each side or hemisphere of the brain is specialised to serve one of these groups of skills.The degree of specialisation of each hemisphere varies from person to person, but it has given rise to the terms right-brain thinking and left-brain thinking.