Charles Kettering, the celebrated inventor and head of research at General Motors, once said that a problem well stated is a problem half solved. Most people today would probably agree. And yet, it’s not what most people usually do.
Typically, they jump right in to brainstorming solutions before understanding what they really want to accomplish.
You can dramatically increase your problem-solving effectiveness by taking a few minutes to define the problem up front. In fact, you might be surprised at how often this step leads directly to a solution.
Take the elevator makers’ dilemma, for example.
You can imagine what it was like when elevators were introduced. People were understandably nervous about getting on them. They fidgeted and pushed buttons, impatient and waiting for the elevator to arrive at its destination. And there was a widespread perception that elevators were unbelievably slow. This led to complaints.
So, elevator makers had a problem on their hands: Can we make our product move faster?