16 Ways to Hone Your Problem-Solving Skills (2024)

Strong problem-solving skills are crucial to have in business. Without developing the ability to step back, look at the various causes and outcomes, and then take the steps needed to pursue the right course, you or your team will be regularly in a state of crisis, unable to move forward with any real speed.

When you feel like you’re hitting a wall in your leadership or entrepreneurial journey, you’ll want to be able to find your way around it. To help you better handle such roadblocks, we asked a panel ofYoung Entrepreneur Councilmembers to share their best advice for honing problem-solving skills. Here’s what they said:

1. Reflect on your worst times.

Problem-solving is something we all deal with on a daily basis. However, we all deal with problems differently. In order to solve your own problems and teach others how to do the same, one must reflect back on their worst times and remember the processes they took to get out of it. As you do this, be sure to take notes and reverse engineer your action process—then apply this to other situations.

Zac Johnson,Blogger

2. Always be a student.

As we hit certain accomplishments and gather certain credibility, our ego might get the best of us. One piece of advice for all thought leaders is to continuously learn from others. We have to be open minded. Just because we becamesuccessfuldoesn’t mean we have no room for improvement. We don’t and won’t ever know it all. So in order to hone our skills, we must be forever a student.

Fritz Colcol,ABN Circle

3. Exercise creativity like a muscle.

You can exercise creativity regularly to get better at problem-solving. It’s like a muscle—the more you work, the stronger it gets. Some helpful skills that are free are writing, doodling and brainstorming. It’s important to allow yourself to express any idea no matter how absurd it seems. Once you’ve come with more answers than you need, you can whittle it down to the most useful answer.

Syed Balkhi,WPBeginner

4. Don’t take things personally.

When we can’t solve a problem as quickly or efficiently as we hope, we habitually blame ourselves. Ironically, blaming ourselves makes it harder to solve new problems as they arise. I suggest that you always step back from a situation that requires a solution and look at it from an objective point of view.

John Turner,SeedProd LLC

5. Define the problem before trying to solve it.

You need to know exactly what problem you’re facing before you can solve it. Lay it all out there—the circ*mstances and your options—and decide what is best for you based on what you know. The more you practice, the better at it you’ll get.

Jared Atchison,WPForms

6. Change your perspective.

If you change the way you see a problem, from another person’s shoes, or perspective, you are more likely to have the tools you need to understand their point of view. Which helps you make a more balanced and informed decision.

Stephanie Wells,Formidable Forms

7. Bounce ideas off other people.

There’s a lot of power in stating your problems and thoughts aloud to other people; you get feedback and fresh ideas. Other people can often point out things that are obvious but which you’ve missed because you were too close to the problem. You don’t have to be alone when it comes to problem-solving for your business. It’s helpful to find a community or colleagues to support you.

Blair Williams,MemberPress

8. Keep your higher purpose in mind.

The best advice I have for leaders to hone their problem-solving skills is to keep your higher purpose in mind. What drives you? Why are your putting effort and time into your business? Knowing the answer to these questions allows you to solve problems with more creativity, confidence and power. Those around you will also see your passion, prompting them to develop leadership skills, too.

Shu Saito,Godai

9. Look for unusual connections.

The most extraordinary solutions to problems are not necessarily complex, but they are always creative. Creativity is not only about making something new. It’s also the ability to find unusual connections between familiar things. My advice is to exercise your creativity by soaking in as many ideas as you can. The more ideas you learn, the more creative solutions you prepare for.

Solomon Thimothy,OneIMS

10. Don’t neglect your body.

The body and the mind are connected as part of one organism. That means if you want to improve your mental health and problem-solving skills, you can’t neglect your physical health. Remember to exercise regularly, get a good night’s sleep and take breaks if you spend a long time behind a desk looking at the computer.

Bryce Welker,The Big 4 Accounting Firms

11. Simplify the problem.

Simplify the problem down to its most basic core. Then simplify the solution. Determine two or three concrete steps that, when taken, will solve the problem. For the most part, it’s that simple.

Andrew Schrage,Money Crashers Personal Finance

12. Look at the problem as an opportunity.

Problem-solving skills are vital in the workforce and often determinesuccess. I would say one of the best pieces of advice for leaders to hone their problem-solving skills is to be aware of your mindset. If you allow yourself to be burdened or frustrated by the problem, then you are less likely to come up with the best solution. See problems as an opportunity to learn, get creative and be resourceful instead.

Diego Orjuela,Cables & Sensors

13. Volunteer for other organizations.

The best way to practice problem-solving is to expose yourself to new challenges and new industries. A great way to do that is by volunteering for a nonprofit organization or even a political campaign. You’ll interact with new people and learn new tools and approaches that can help expand your creativity to solve problems in your own business.

Nanxi Liu,Enplug

14. Read case studies.

Wherever possible, read case studies of current and past leaders you admire. Their memoirs, internal reports and analysts’ reports all help paint a vivid picture of how more established leaders have handled difficult decisions in a wise manner. Even better, turn this activity into a group exercise by asking fellow executives to review the same cases and discuss their conclusions with you.

Yaniv Masjedi,Nextiva

15. Change up your routine.

One of the biggest challenges to problem-solving is habitual thinking. To solve problems, you need to think in creative ways. And to think creatively, you need to get outside the routine. One of the best ways to get your brain in a creative space is to schedule a time to get away from the desk, go for a walk and allow your mind to wander. You’ll find that new ideas emerge.

Keith Shields,Designli

16. Face your problems authentically.

With every problem you attempt to solve, remind yourself of who you are and why you are doing what you’re doing. Face all your problems bravely and solve them based on your inner voice, gut feel and authenticity to yourself. There’s no other way to solve your problems but to face them with pride in knowing that you are being true to yourself, and your mission and vision are still intact.

Daisy Jing,Banish

Related: Answer These 3 Questions to Be a Better Problem Solver and Leader

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s mostsuccessfulyoung entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more atyec.co.

Image by Pranch / Shutterstock



Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

16 Ways to Hone Your Problem-Solving Skills (2024)


How can I hone my problem-solving skills? ›

6 Steps of the Problem Solving Process
  1. Identify the problem. ...
  2. Do your research. ...
  3. Look for possible solutions. ...
  4. Make a decision. ...
  5. Put that decision into action. ...
  6. Await results.
7 Jun 2021

What are the 8 problem-solving strategies? ›

8-Step Problem Solving Process
  • Step 1: Define the Problem. What is the problem? ...
  • Step 2: Clarify the Problem. ...
  • Step 3: Define the Goals. ...
  • Step 4: Identify Root Cause of the Problem. ...
  • Step 5: Develop Action Plan. ...
  • Step 6: Execute Action Plan. ...
  • Step 7: Evaluate the Results. ...
  • Step 8: Continuously Improve.

How do I hone critical thinking skills? ›

How to Develop Critical Thinking
  1. Don't Believe Everything You're Told. The first step to critical thinking is to consider more than one point of view. ...
  2. Don't Believe Everything You Think. ...
  3. Ask Questions. ...
  4. Research Deeper. ...
  5. Evaluate Your Work.

What are the 4 types of problem solving strategies? ›

What Are Problem Solving Strategies?
  • Guess (includes guess and check, guess and improve)
  • Act It Out (act it out and use equipment)
  • Draw (this includes drawing pictures and diagrams)
  • Make a List (includes making a table)
  • Think (includes using skills you know already)

What is a good example of problem solving? ›

Examples of Problem Solving Scenarios in the Workplace

Solving any problems related to money, customer billing, accounting and bookkeeping, etc. Finding a way to make the company more profitable through new service or product offerings, new pricing ideas, promotion and sale ideas, etc.

What are the 6 problem-solving steps? ›

Six step guide to help you solve problems
  • Step 1: Identify and define the problem. State the problem as clearly as possible. ...
  • Step 2: Generate possible solutions. ...
  • Step 3: Evaluate alternatives. ...
  • Step 4: Decide on a solution. ...
  • Step 5: Implement the solution. ...
  • Step 6: Evaluate the outcome.

What are the problem solving models? ›

Problem-solving models are step-by-step processes that provide a framework for addressing challenges in the workplace. These models allow you and your team members to make data-based decisions while working toward a logical, structured solution to benefit the entire team or company.

How many tools are used for problem-solving? ›

The problem solving tools include three unique categories: problem solving diagrams, problem solving mind maps, and problem solving software solutions. They include: Fishbone diagrams. Flowcharts.

What are the 7 principles of critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking involves asking questions, defining a problem, examining evidence, analyzing assumptions and biases, avoiding emotional reasoning, avoiding oversimplification, considering other interpretations, and tolerating ambiguity.

What are the 5 critical thinking questions? ›

The questions are as follows:
  • What are the issue and the conclusion?
  • What are the reasons?
  • What are the assumptions?
  • Are there any fallacies in the reasoning?
  • How good is the evidence?
30 Nov 2017

How do students develop critical thinking skills essay? ›

How to start a critical thinking essay
  1. Choose a central problem or argument. ...
  2. Gather information and recall to existing knowledge. ...
  3. Come up with a thesis statement. ...
  4. Write the body paragraph. ...
  5. Analyze the information. ...
  6. Examine different viewpoints. ...
  7. Review contexts. ...
  8. Come up with your own viewpoint.
9 Mar 2018

How do you practice creative thinking? ›

6 Ways to Boost Your Creative Thinking
  1. Consume content that's way outside your comfort zone.
  2. Write a 500 word article with no topic whatsoever.
  3. Go see a movie in a movie theater.
  4. Take a phone call with someone you don't know.
  5. Eat differently.
  6. Do the "No Bad Ideas Brainstorming" exercise.

What are the 5 ways of solving social problems? ›

How to Solve a Social Problem
  • Focus on the Outliers.
  • Set measurable goals with a scary deadline.
  • Focus on the obvious thing.
  • Build the broadest team possible.
  • Experiment in short cycles.
22 Jan 2014

What is 5P problem-solving? ›

People, Process, Platform, Partnership, and Problem Solving: The 5P Approach to Strengthening Knowledge Management Capacity and Culture | USAID Learning Lab.

What is problem-solving skills training? ›

PSST is designed to teach the skills involved in effective problem-solving, including skills that address practical problems faced by caregivers.

How many types of problem-solving methods are there? ›

Problem solving is a highly sought-after skill. There are many techniques to problem solving. Examples include trial and error, difference reduction, means-ends analysis, working backwards, and analogies.

What are 3 key attributes of a good problem solver? ›

We've found that fearless problem solvers tend to exhibit five key characteristics: They are undaunted, optimistic, driven, smart, and empathetic.
We wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Undaunted. There is no problem that won't be tackled. ...
  • Optimistic. ...
  • Driven. ...
  • Smart. ...
  • Empathetic.
9 Dec 2015

Why is problem-solving skills important? ›

Why is it important? Employers like to see good problem solving skills because it also helps to show them you have a range of other competencies such as logic, creativity, resilience, imagination, lateral thinking and determination. It is a vital skills for your professional and personal life.

Why is problem-solving important? ›

Solving problems means making choices. Typically, effective problem-solving skills result in “happier, more confident, and more independent” individuals. When children tackle problems on their own, or in a group, they become resilient. They learn to look at challenges from a fresh perspective.

What is the problem solving process? ›

Problem Analysis. Generating possible Solutions. Analyzing the Solutions. Selecting the best Solution(s).

Why following the 6 steps of problem solving process is important? ›

Advantages of Six-Step Problem Solving

The Six-Step method provides a focused procedure for the problem solving (PS) group. It ensures consistency, as everyone understands the approach to be used. By using data, it helps eliminate bias and preconceptions, leading to greater objectivity.

What is the first step in solving problem? ›

Define Every Problem

The first step in solving a problem is understanding what that problem actually is.

What are the 7 different root cause analysis techniques? ›

The Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram (IFD) Pareto Chart. 5 Whys. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

What resources are needed to solve a problem? ›

You need to use a variety of sources to come to satisfactory methods to solve a specific problem such as web resources, books, articles, blogs, statistics, and news reports. Use them all!

What are the 7 steps to problem-solving PDF? ›

Here are seven-steps for an effective problem-solving process.
  • Identify the issues. • ...
  • Understand everyone's interests. • ...
  • List the possible solutions (options) • ...
  • Evaluate the options. • ...
  • Select an option or options. • ...
  • Document the agreement(s). • ...
  • Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation. •

What are common problems that need solving? ›

Top Problems that can be Solved
  • Armed Conflict.
  • Chronic Disease.
  • Education.
  • Infectious Disease.
  • Population Growth.
  • Biodiversity.
  • Climate Change.
  • Hunger and Malnutrition.
21 May 2018

What are the strategies of math? ›

Top 9 math strategies for engaging lessons
  • Explicit instruction. You can't always jump straight into the fun. ...
  • Conceptual understanding. ...
  • Using concepts in Math vocabulary. ...
  • Cooperative learning strategies. ...
  • Meaningful and frequent homework. ...
  • Puzzle pieces math instruction. ...
  • Verbalize math problems. ...
  • Reflection time.
26 Jul 2021

What is problem solving in psychology? ›

Problem solving in psychology refers to the process of finding solutions to problems encountered in life. Solutions to these problems are usually situation or context-specific. The process starts with problem finding and problem shaping, where the problem is discovered and simplified.

What are 10 personal issues? ›

The 10 Most Common Life Problems and How to Deal with Them
  • Health Crisis. There comes a time in your life when you are not healthy. ...
  • Workplace Issues. Of course, everyone gets to work when the time and opportunity are there. ...
  • Emptiness. ...
  • Friendship Issues. ...
  • Failure. ...
  • Financial Crisis. ...
  • Career Pressure. ...
  • Unfair Treatment.

What are some simple everyday problems? ›

Here is the full list:
  • Having a runny nose.
  • Call from unknown numbers.
  • Being left on hold when calling a company.
  • Receiving a 'we missed you' card for a failed parcel delivery.
  • People who ignore queuing etiquette.
  • Having no WiFi.
  • Having to pay 5p to carry your own shopping home.
  • Door-to-door salespeople.
30 Dec 2015

What are some modern day problems? ›

Not all of these risks are independent, because the majority, if not all of them are a result of human activity.
  • Biodiversity loss.
  • Climate change.
  • Destructive artificial intelligence.
  • Environmental disaster.
  • Nuclear holocaust.
  • Pandemic. current example: COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Biotechnology risk.
  • Molecular nanotechnology.

How can students improve their math skills? ›

Embracing technology to improve math skills

Your child can take live, online math courses to work through tough concepts. Or play a variety of online games, solving math puzzles and getting consistent practice while having fun.

What are the 8 mathematical practices? ›

Standards for Mathematical Practice
  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. ...
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively. ...
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. ...
  • Model with mathematics. ...
  • Use appropriate tools strategically. ...
  • Attend to precision. ...
  • Look for and make use of structure.
13 Jul 2022

How can I improve my math teaching skills? ›

7 Effective Strategies for Teaching Elementary Math
  1. Make it hands-on. ...
  2. Use visuals and images. ...
  3. Find opportunities to differentiate learning. ...
  4. Ask students to explain their ideas. ...
  5. Incorporate storytelling to make connections to real-world scenarios. ...
  6. Show and tell new concepts. ...
  7. Let your students regularly know how they're doing.
1 Feb 2018

What are the four barriers to problem solving? ›

Some barriers do not prevent us from finding a solution, but do prevent us from finding the most efficient solution. Four of the most common processes and factors are mental set, functional fixedness, unnecessary constraints and irrelevant information.

What are the 6 barriers to problem solving? ›

Common barriers to problem solving are cognitive blocks that impede the ability to correctly solve problems. These can be perceptual, emotional, intellectual, expressive, environmental, and cultural. Everybody has cognitive blocks, and each person will have different types and at different intensities.

How many tools are used for problem solving? ›

The problem solving tools include three unique categories: problem solving diagrams, problem solving mind maps, and problem solving software solutions. They include: Fishbone diagrams. Flowcharts.

What are the 3 important things to remember in solving word? ›

3-Step System
  • Read: Read the problem and decide what the question is asking.
  • Plan: Think about what the story is asking you to do. ...
  • Solve: What strategy could you use to find the missing information: addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division?
23 Jul 2018

How is problem solving used in real life? ›

Problem solving can help you track down the culprit, diagnose the cause of the stain and develop an action plan to get your home clean and fresh again.

What is the easiest way to solve word problems? ›

A proven step-by-step method for solving word problems is actually quite simple.
  1. Read the problem out loud to yourself.
  2. Draw a Picture.
  3. Think “What do I need to find?”
  4. List what is given.
  5. Find the key words.
  6. Solve.
  7. Check your work.
27 Feb 2018

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