Problem Solving Tips and Techniques That Work

Problem Solving Tips and Techniques That Work

It’s easy enough to have a solution to a problem, but not every problem is solvable in the same way. Many software problems are difficult to solve just by virtue of the issue at hand, let alone the implementation required to actually get the solution working. Even for exceptionally creative people, creative solutions do not come easily; they need to be planned out, debugged, and implemented within a reasonable time frame, and this can trip you up if you don’t have a good process for completing tasks. While there is no substitute for your own creativity, here are a few tips to keep in mind when utilizing it.

Write down the problem

It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s true. Actually understanding the problem you need to solve is probably the most important part of the problem-solving process. You can be the most talented and accomplished software engineer in the building, but if you end up writing a program function that gathers user data when your job was instead to graph that data using plt.subplots, then you may have just ended up wasting your time either doing a job that had already been in progress, is finished, or was not needed at all in the first place. Knowing how your task fits in with the bigger picture of the program, be it in relation to other people’s tasks or to how the program is going to be used as a whole, will be a good way to gain insight into how to make a better product anyway.

What can you do about it?

Once you understand what your problem is, you need to know what to do about it. This is where your education as a professional software developer comes in, as you will need to think up as many possible reasonable solutions. Ways to help you figure out how to proceed with your problem-solving include restating the problem as a question and identifying signs of a successfully solved problem. If you find that a workplace, experienced as it is, ends up having difficulties when it comes to this part of problem-solving you could consider professional development solutions like okrs examples to help it move forward.

Implement, and debug

If you followed the first two steps, you now have a plan. Executing your plan can be tedious compared to the planning phase, but it is nonetheless a necessary step since it is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. Figuring out how to stay motivated and get through monotonous tasks like replacing variable names (and making sure nothing breaks) or dealing with endless program compiling for debugging results can be a problem-solving issue in itself, especially when there are only so many ways to accomplish a particular task. Consider setting goals for yourself and see how much you enjoy the goal when compared to the seemingly endless task itself, or perhaps try figuring out how to automate a task you find unpalatable. If you are particularly goal-oriented you might find that trying to beat or meet particular goals is more entertaining than the task itself.

Solving problems is what puts bread on the table, and this is true no matter how many computer programs you apply to your problem. Learning how to deal with everything that comes with those problems is quite literally a job, and university courses, helpful as they are, cannot prepare you for absolutely everything. Career burnout is a real problem that you might only encounter after many years on the job, for example, and you might find that solving problems becomes more difficult over time for a number of other reasons as well. Ideally, you should never stop learning about what you love doing.

By Sam

Sam Lowy is a writer, actor, comedian, musician, and everything in between. A true jack of all trades, Sam is constantly striving to learn and grow. Whether it's for a festival or just a once-in-a-lifetime club show, Sam loves to travel across the country to catch the best artists around. When he's at home in Tempe, AZ, Sam enjoys reading, playing guitar, and watching Frasier, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.