How to Approach Problem and Challenges

When you are faced with a challenging problem it is easy to throw your hands in the air and say it is all too hard, but here are some tips (not in any particular order) that might help you develop a problem solving mindset.

Work with others

Extra brains mean extra ideas. When we work with others we can discuss our ideas, understanding and challenges and gain the perspectives of other people.

‘Play with’ the problem

This means looking at the problem from different perspectives and considering lots of ideas, even if they seem ridiculous at first. This type of flexible thinking allows multiple solutions or ideas to be considered and can lead to innovative solutions.

Break the problem into smaller parts.

Sometimes a problem can seem overwhelming, so breaking it into smaller parts allows you to find a starting point and focus on one thing at a time. If you are working in a group, you might even be able to allocate parts to different people.


Don’t focus on getting the one ‘right answer’.

A problem may not have one ‘right’ answer. In fact there may be lots of solutions, so it is important to think about the process and not just the outcome.

Take your time to Analyse Problem

Unless it is an emergency, you should take your time when solving problems. Make sure that you really understand the problem before you jump right in to solve it. Check what resources you can use and maybe start to brainstorm some ideas (making notes can help) before you get started.

Be prepared to fail

Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. Often, we learn more when we fail at something than when we succeed. If one approach doesn’t work, think about why and then try something else. Persistence and reflection is key. Some very famous problems have been solved after many years of hard work and trial and error.

Doctail Innovator

The Group Head of Innovation role and manage the Group Innovation Team @OILab

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