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Solve vexing problems

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Whether you’re helping an employee tackle a tough problem or you’re battling with one yourself, use this process to arrive at a sound solution:

Define the problem. Stick to the core issue and use the fewest words possible to describe it. Example: To complete my assignment, I need accurate information that’s hard to find.

Embrace varying viewpoints. Pretend you’re a consultant, the CEO or a teenager facing the same challenge. Step into their shoes. Imagine how they’d respond. For instance, a CEO might bypass the problem by creating a new set of information that’s more reliable and easier to obtain.

Talk it out. Find trusted peers or mentors to serve as sounding boards. Brainstorm together, think in unconventional terms and exchange honest feedback.

Rate proposed solutions. Before you pick one solution among many, put each one through a grading system. Evaluate its likelihood of success, the obstacles it presents and your ability to control the outcome.

Use a 1-5 scale and ask others to rate each solution.

Follow through. Once you decide on a solution, invest in it 100 percent. Don’t give a half-hearted effort. Set up checkpoints to track your progress.

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