Steps to develop problem-solving skills

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We all face problems in our life. How we face them is the important thing here. Some people are really good to solve problems while others have a harder time doing it. In this article, I have jotted down general steps to approach a problem that will help you build problem-solving skills.

Step 1: Understand the problem carefully

The first step is to look at the statement carefully and understand it well. Reading carefully is often a skill set that does not come naturally. The first instinct is to race to the finish line rather than to engage deeply with a text. It’s crucial that you read between the lines. Some tips here would be to: Read the title, does it seem to be referencing something? Read the instructions, are any of the words especially highlighted? Are there pictures? Reverse image search might help.

Step 2: Deep dive into the problem, account all assumptions

Ask yourself if you are familiar with all of the information being presented. Even if you are, a simple Google search may enhance your understanding. Another important step is to look for any assumptions that you’ve made that are not warranted. You should also look at the problem from different perspectives. If you get stuck at one perspective, you can end up with a solution that is not germane in the long term or not reliable enough.

Step 3: Analyze the solutions

After the above steps, you will have a few solutions. See if these solutions have any common component as this will help identify the critical components in the final solution. Next step is to evaluate each solution by listing down any applicable pros and cons, other constraints or assumptions made. The list method of evaluation is effective to visualize a snapshot of the problem and its possible solutions. They help focus the mind, increase the capacity for creative thinking, and generate more ideas for solutions.

These steps will not only help you solve a problem but also help you present the most optimized solution for it.

Software Development Engineer @amazon | GSoC’18 Mentor@systers | Open source enthusiast | Love to participate in Hackathons | Optimizations is secret of my code

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