As one might think, a problem solver is not a person who solved a lot of problems or continues solving one or two problems a day. Not at all. A problem solver is a person who thinks as a problem solver. In this post, we want to try and shed some light on how you can become a problem solver, and share some of my personal experiences of being a problem solver.
Because of the way the problem solver thinks, he can recognize a problem – he knows how it looks like. A problem-solver knows how to analyze and eventually come up with a solution. It does not mean, however, he always does. To reiterate, a problem solver is not necessarily a person who solves problems, but rather one who thinks like a problem solver; and, of course, can solve a problem.
Innovation and problem solving are two sides of the same coin. Innovation is just a result of solving somebody’s problem. We already discussed it in one of our previous blogs Innovation is a solution to somebody’s problem.
Problem-solving is a science therefore problem-solving is a profession and I am a problem solver.
Being a problem solver is not as easy as it might seem. It comes with benefits, but also presents a lot of challenges!
It does not really matter which university you graduated from. It is not important if you are M. Sc. or Ph.D. You should be ready to tell yourself I know nothing and I have to continue learning, and I have to learn a lot.
There are many resources to learn problem-solving from. In general, you can pick up everything relevant such as TRIZ, Lean, 6 Sigma, Kaizen, etc. The more the better. Read papers, try different problem-solving tools, learn from others, and simply learn and consume as much information as you possibly can.
Participation in real projects and real problem-solving processes is very important. Apply your problem-solving knowledge and build up your innovation experience. The most important is that you should not be afraid to fail; not only on the exam but also at solving real problems. You should be ready to fail. I have been working a lot on different projects and was never afraid to fail. It is not comforting and often painful but this is a part of problem-solving education. Failure is a way to learn.
Everybody thinks he can solve problems. Everyone knows that to be a doctor, engineer, or attorney requires you to spend a long time studying, and after that, you have to convince that you are a worthy professional. In the case of problem-solving everything is inverted. Apparently, you don’t need to learn, you don’t need to prove anything. You can simply decide that you are a problem solver. Weird, but true…
The majority of people we talk to believe that there is no need for any problem-solving tools. This leads to people jumping directly into the solution without the systematic analysis of the problem or in fact without any systematic approach.
Engineers believe they do not need to waste time on a problem statement, root cause analysis, failure modeling, and system analysis followed by a reasonable solution. People just starting “to shoot in the dark”, “play a roulette”, by simply throwing possible solutions, and that is not a reasonable process at all. This process never can bring good results without a lot of luck.
Nonprofessional problem solvers are similar to nonprofessional medical doctors and are very dangerous. And, they don’t even know that they are nonprofessional.
Be prepared that any of your ideas, even a brilliant one, can and will be rejected without any reasonable explanation. Here is one typical example of my consulting activity.
In order to reduce the amount of oxygen in some products, a reducer was added. The problem was that the concentration of the additive remains was relatively high after the interaction. I have been working on the chemical and functional model and got to the conclusion that the interaction goes up to the formation of suboxide. That means that the amount of additive should be increased twice. When I explained all my models, the engineering manager told me: “Your proposal is to increase the amount of the additive in order to reduce the amount of the residue in the final product? This is nonsense. I do not want your consultations anymore.”
6 months after that incident, a process engineer called me and said that a miss-process had happened. Mistakenly, one of the technicians loaded the additive twice. The results were wonderful. “But what interesting,” – he said, – “that nobody remembered that this is what you proposed.”
This is a typical situation, because of a very well known reason. People accept ideas using “pattern recognition”. Everyone has “patterns” and if the idea fits their pattern is most likely to be accepted. If not, it will be rejected without any explanations.
I am a problem solver. This is my way of life because it is fantastic to be a problem solver. Each time you understand and solve a problem you feel like a winner, creator, you feel fantastic.
Do you want to be a problem solver? If you do, start learning, solve problems, innovate, and repeat.
LOGIN to PRIZ Innovation Platform and start your project.
Answering the question, “Does everyone want to be profitable?”, depends on the goals set by the CEO and executives of the company regarding the desired outcomes from the systems used by the firm to drive profitability. In most cases, it is up to the managers and their engineers to generate profitability from the existing systems that are integral to the organization’s production of products and services. These products and services are then valued by customers, who pay a cost to the company in exchange for them. Challenges and Solutions The challenge that engineers and managers face alike is the complexity…
RCA thinking is a tool for learning how the system operates and creating solutions to problems.
Problem solving and innovation are often seen as separate concepts, but they are actually closely intertwined. While problem solving involves finding solutions to complex issues, innovation is about introducing new ideas or approaches. Effective problem solving incorporates innovative thinking, whether it’s in designing projects, analyzing data, or collaborating with others. In our modern era, where systems are more complex than ever, problem solving requires a structured and systematic approach. Leading companies like Samsung, LG Electronics, and TSMC have recognized the value of this approach and have achieved success by applying innovative methods. By adopting these practices, businesses can improve operational…
This article explores the various components of production costs and the factors that lead to their escalation, such as inflation, technological advancements, and market shifts. It emphasizes the need for a problem-solving culture as a strategy for effective cost reduction and highlights hidden opportunities for cost reduction through process optimization. The article further provides a simple strategy for reducing production costs by categorizing operations and improving or eliminating them accordingly. Production costs Production cost refers to the total expenses incurred in making a product or providing a service, including materials, labor, and related costs. For a more detailed explanation of…
The word “Innovation” meets us everywhere: at work, bank, pharmacy, bank, post office, gym, playground… “Innovation” became a brand indicating the effectiveness and success of the company. Do we clearly understand what innovation is? This article discusses the essence of innovation and the difference between innovation and process/product change, improvement, or fixing. We also discuss and describe the innovation process using the PRIZ Innovation Platform. The Ambiguity of Innovation Definitions The internet provides an abundance of different definitions and explanations of innovation. This suggests that the concept of innovation is not trivial and requires further analysis and clarification. According to…
Have you ever found yourself skipping the creation of a detailed description of the failure and jumping right into solutioning? Don’t worry, we’ve been there too! We are thrilled to announce the release of a new feature on the PRIZ platform that is designed to enhance the quality and completeness of project overviews. With this new feature, engineers and project leads can receive a thorough review of their written background and also get guidance and suggestions for improvement. One of the main problems this feature solves is that many engineers tend to jump straight into solutions without investing enough effort…
This article discusses the importance of using engineering thinking to solve problems in an engineering environment instead of resorting to engineering guessing. It covers the dangers of engineering guessing and the benefits of using engineering thinking. The article also outlines a systematic approach to problem-solving using problem-solving tools and facilitation, such as the PRIZ Innovation platform. Proper documentation, defining the problem statement, identifying root causes, and understanding the process are all essential components of engineering thinking, which is the only way to generate fast and effective solutions. Types of Problems in a Production Environment A healthy and growing production can…
Engineering work is built on three essential pillars: process improvement, cost reduction, and root cause analysis. Engineers should dedicate their thinking to a specific and measurable target, use thinking tools and resources, and recognize and value engineering thinking. The PRIZ Innovation Platform offers tools for engineering thinking, including Process Functional Modeling, 40 Inventive Principles, and Effective Brainstorming. Engineers should focus on improving only those operations that increase the value of the product, remove all operations that do not increase the value of the product, and understand the origin of defects and eliminate them. What does an engineer do? What does…