The best problem solvers never eliminate solutions too early. They don’t pin themselves in a box against traditional thinking.
The simple solution very often is the solution. And yet so many of us sprint right past it.
We speed right past the detour sign because we are so focused on finding some convoluted solution. And this is where we pin ourselves in a box.
Because problem solving is about starting with the basics. It’s about going back to square one and making sure we are looking at the problem with a very elemental understanding.
By opening our mind up to all possibilities, we free our mind of previous biases that may hold us back from getting to the solution.
Take last night for instance. The ice-maker on the refrigerator at my house stopped working. I immediately assume the worse, and start to argue with my wife about how the sensor went bad, and we are going to have to call a repairman to fix it.
Luckily, I didn’t act on that first impulse. I took a step back. Freed my mind of the previous bias and went back to evaluating the most basic of problems and just eliminating one by one.
And I am glad I did. It was the child lock. There is a small touch button that locks all of the buttons on the refrigerator. Press it again, and everything starts working.
It’s so easy to allow our previous assumptions to cloud our judgement. And this can be dangerous when these assumptions prevent us from seeing clearly.
When we draw a box around the possible solutions, we leave the possibility that the real solution lies somewhere outside the box. And in that case, you will be stuck.
Don’t eliminate the simplest solution. It may be the solution.