| Introduction | Strategies | Psychology | Ownership | Guidelines | Explore | Define | Solve | Action | Review |




Our life is not without problems, and we can never live a problem free life, as survival is always challenging us with events and problems that require us to respond.  Each day can be divided into contexts.  Our life is a work in program, and the reason we arenít further along is because we canít do everything at once and the presence of roadblocks or problems.   There is always unfinished work in progress.  We are always starting projects, usually more than we complete because we get to a roadblock and either donít know who to get around them or the cost of removing the roadblocks, with the solutions know to ourselves, is too stiff to pay relative to our expected reward.   A typical life consists of ongoing projects and problems.  Both the projects and the associated problems will never end.  ďOur work will never be done, but it will end.Ē[1]


In everyday life, there are usually no clearly right or wrong answers to the problems we face in life, although there may be better and worse solutions.[2]   It is worthwhile spending some time both sharpening our saw, to get our projects done faster, and also, to find innovative solutions that speed us on our way without undo cost and delay.   Most practical problems are characterized by an apparent absence of the exact information necessary for solution.   We find solutions by looking for information that reveals good remedies.      


Problems develop in one of two ways.  In both cases, the goal is to create a desirable end state.  One way a problem develops is that you start with an undesirable state and decide you want to move to a more desirable end state.  Another way a problem develops is that you start with a desired state and some external change outside your control turned it into an undesirable situation.  The goal is to return to the original starting point or desired situation.  In both cases, the goal is the sameÖthe creation of a desirable end state.  The two different problem cases differ only in the way they started.   One case started from the desired state initially, so the goal to return to the same desired state.  The pre-existing conditions of this initial state are already familiar, so when these conditions are recreated, you can presume the problem is solved.  In the other case, the undesired or initial state is also familiar and the goal is to change it to some better and preferred future state.  The goal is to find the best way to go from the status quo to a desired future state.    One solution is to reverse or correct all the conditions that make the current situation undesirable.


Regardless of how the undesired state came about, the goal is to achieve a desirable end state as defined by a preferred set of conditions.    Problem solving presumes that the desirable end state is known and can be described in all necessary features.   What has to be done to solve a problem is to define a way to restore or to create the desirable end state.   Sometimes, the desirable end state can be achieved in multiple ways, and the problem will be solved with the selection of any one of them.  In this particular situation, the resolution of the problem is one of making a choice of the best solution.  


Decision-making and problem-solving are intricately intertwined with some aspects applicable to each.  For example whenever there are more than one way to achieve a desirable end state, decision-making methods are used to pick the best one.   When attempting to create alternatives for creating the desirable end state, problem-solving method are used.   


A problem seldom gets better by itself.  Sometimes it does, but not often enough where waiting is the best solution.  However, waiting is always a candidate solution to any problem.  Countless people who donít know to fix a problem or donít want to spend the time to fix the problem use the strategy of waiting and hoping that the problem will fix itself.  Unmanaged, problems tend to go from bad to worse.


When left to themselves, things get worse and only improve with effort.

Andrew Mathews


However one defines a problem, people seem to have a lot of them.   Humans seem to be an animal species with high expectations for the future both in terms of what they want and what they think they can create for themselves.  Most people can imagine more desirable end states than they have time and energy to create.  So, people often decide to accept whatever deplorable conditions they are living with rather then expend the time and effort to improve it.  Only the most compelling of desirable end state are acted upon.  One must always balance the cost against the benefits one would receive by converting from their current state to the desirable end state.


While humans declare that they have many problems, they are also blessed with an abundance of skills and mental capability for dealing with them.  Problems are part of the human condition. Life is a succession of problems.   We will never run out of problems that need to be solved.  Since we are always going to have aspirations, we are always going to have challenges, so we might as well find a way to enjoy solving them.  We will never be without problems.[3]


Enjoy your challenges because you will have many of them.

Dave Pelzer


Since we cannot escape a life without troubles, we should not be surprised when problems find us.  Donít let problems surprise you, immobilize you, or overwhelm you.   Donít delude yourself into thinking that problems shouldnít happen to you either.  Problems are the norm if you are living life fully.  The absence of problems is abnormal, because it means you are living too conservatively.  For people who seek greatness, there will always be trouble in the world.[4]   Expect them as part of the journey, try to avoid them with prudent actions, but handle them stoically when they arrive.   You need to find a balance between having too few and too many problems.   Too few problems is an indicator of unhealthy living just as too many problems is also a warning.   Anyone with too few problems is not living life a little too carefully and overly accepting what is to avoid the problems associated with what might be.


A wise person does not go searching for unnecessary problems that can just as easily be avoided. You should never willingly stick your foot in cow manure nor should you ever kick a skunk.[5]   Neither will result in a desirable end state.   All problems should be associated with some predefined and desirable end state.


Before you can solve a problem, you must know on have one. You have to realize you have a problem before you can deal with it.[6]   Before you can solve a problem, you must be able to define it.   It has been said that,  ďA problem that is well defined is half solved.Ē The reason behind this logic is that once the root cause of a problem is defined, one solution is to remove the root cause.  Without the root cause, the problem is solved and the situation will reverts back into its desirable end state.


Don't just fix problems; eliminate the source.

Morty Lefkoe


In this handbook, you will learn everything you need to know to recognize and define a problem, how to develop solutions to these problems, and how to choose the most cost effective alternative from amongst the solutions you find.    Some people would be pleased with any solution.  Developing many solutions and then choosing the best one is normally the find way to solve a problem.


The problems we face today in virtually every area of life

cannot be solved with the options that exist.

Morty Lefkoe


Whatever the solution to any problem, remember that this solution will not necessarily prevent future problems from occurring, because as most people know, the chief cause of problemsÖis solutions.[7]  So, you have in incentive to pick a wise solution in that the better solutions have fewer downstream complications.   If many even be better to pay a higher price for the solution if it minimizes the potential for future problems.


[1] Janaro and Altshuler, The Art of Being Human

[2] Robert Sternberg, Successful Intelligence

[3] Dr. Theodore Rubin

[4] Scott Alexander

[5] Charles E. Watson

[6] Patricia Wiklund

[7] Unknown