Problem Solving - 10 Skills To Future Proof Yourself

Problem Solving - 10 Skills To Future Proof Yourself

In this week’s post on 10 Skills You Need To Future Proof Yourself we’re focusing on ‘problem solving’. You can read our first one on ‘creativity’ here.

When was the last time you faced a problem?

If you’re like everybody else, it’s likely that it was recently.

Bizarrely, despite the fact that they’re a regular occurrence in our personal and professional lives, we are never formerly taught how to solve them.

It’s no surprise then that problem solving is a skill that is in high demand amongst employers.

What is problem solving?

Problem solving is a process that requires a broad skill set.

In the early stages, you need to have strong observational skills. Rather than accepting issues at face value, you need to demonstrate lateral thinking and analytical abilities. 

In the later stages, you’ll need creativity, attention to detail and persistence.

The most common fallacy is that for a problem to be solved it has to be eliminated entirely. In fact, what you should be looking for is a solution that suits the majority of people without making things worse.

The definition we like the most appears in the book How to be a better Problem Solver by change specialist Michael Stevens in which he describes it as:

‘….transforming one set of circumstances to another, preferred state.’

Why is it important?

  • Problems are all around us. We face them everyday and the better we are at solving them the easier our lives will be.  

  • Current problems are potential future opportunities.

  • All companies require employees who are good problem solvers.

  • Humanity’s greatest progress has come from solving problems.

How do I become better at it?

Problem solving is a process of which the most important step is correctly identifying the problem in the first place.

Too often, we end up treating the symptom and not the root cause of a problem. This can lead to disaster!

Here are 8 ways to improve your problem solving abilities:

  1. Research to find out if someone has already solved the same or similar problem.

  2. Read broadly. Learn about subjects you wouldn’t normally.

  3. Learn to correctly identify the cause and not the symptom.

  4. Practicing brainstorming activities such as mind mapping.

  5. Involve different types of thinkers in coming up with solutions to your problem.

  6. Be aware of cognitive biases.

  7. Gather information from the widest possible set of sources.

  8. Play video games!


If you found this post helpful, then take a look at our course on Problem Solving from an ex-Scotland Yard Police detective.

It takes you through the problem solving process and will equip you with a variety of tips and techniques that will help make you a better problem solver.

What's your chronotype?

What's your chronotype?

Our Top Ten Books of 2018

Our Top Ten Books of 2018