Solving Problems

There's a basic structure I follow to solving my problems and it's called 1-3-1.

1 → problem

3 → potential solutions

1 → recommended solution

That's it.

I originally got the model from Dan Martell on one of his Instagram stories. It stuck with me, I still use it, and I've shared it with a few people I work with.

Solving existing in problem is naturally reactive. The problem exists and we're in its frame, so we move to solve it. I find that using 1-3-1 really simplifies the process.

The idea of being reactive to problems is highly deceptive. We are working to fix something that's broken, but how did it become broken in the first place? Why is it the way it is? Did we miss something? That's highly possible. In fact, it's very likely. We did something, and it created an outcome we did not expect (nor want).

Chess players often make a mistake and review the game. They identify the move that ruined their victory, and decide never to make that move again.

Chess grandmasters look at a mistake, and study the position. They identify the move that ruined their victory, but then do something different. Instead of looking at that move, they ask a critical question: "why did I think that was a good move to begin with." They fix the thinking behind the mistake instead of just saying "I'll never do that again."

The mentality is inherently different.

Solving problem is about more than just the single problem. It's about the thinking that allowed for the problem to exist in the first place.

That's the key to 1-3-1. Solutions have to address the thinking that allowed the problem to exist. It's what most people get wrong and leave out.

This is also the only way to get ahead of the cycle. We do something, there's a negative consequence, and so we're back where we started. We're solving single problems instead of the thinking that creates them.

Solving for flawed thinking:

That's the challenge isn't it? The steps I follow are straightforward but can feel difficult at first.

The first step is to take the time you need to think through the situation.

For many business people this is already difficult. Some just can't sit still for a few hours and think. Maybe I'm fortunate in this sense to be very comfortable in silent solitude thinking through my problems. Regardless, it has to be done.

So we're thinking. Now what?

Next, I write things down. It's a huge mess (much like these journal entries). Regardless of how messy it can be, it's got to be one paper. Writing is thinking on paper (or on screen). Once it's there, you can see everything in one view and start rearranging. You can make edits as needed. You can organize the words (remember, these are your thoughts written down), and make more sense of them.

Now it's thought out and in written form. How do we make something of it?

Critical thinking should be taught in every school from K-12...but it's not. Resourcefulness is something everyone should have the chance to develop, though some people never have the chance. If you do not have good critical thinking and you're not resourceful, making something of your thoughts will be difficult.

The next step is to take what you have available to you and create the potential solutions. The 3. That's really it. Perhaps you're having trouble hiring, what can you do? DM people? Ask for referrals? Start a new internship program and train the talent not already in the market? Each of these components has steps involved and require a few basic skills and some guts (especially if you're asking for favours).

But that's what it comes down to. You have what you have. What solutions can you create? Can you create something from these pieces? Can you critically think through - not only the solutions - but the thinking that created the problems in the first place? Can you solve for everything in one go? That's the thing about problem solving. It's fucking hard when done right.

But it's possible, rewarding, and fun. All the best working through whatever you have to work through.

Don't feel like you have to rush it. The most overlooked strategy for success is often consistency and patience.