1. Identify the problem
Firstly you need to identify and name the problem so that you can find an appropriate solution. For Social Entrepreneurs, this can be a difficult step because there are so many problems in the world but we must be able to focus and pinpoint the problem that we are passionate about finding a solution to. For me, I had to think about what my purpose in life was and my passions. This took me back to school when I was greatly impacted by our unit on poverty and malnutrition.
2. Research the problem
You have to see the problem clearly enough to determine what action you are going to take. Getting a clear view of the problem may take considerable research. You aren’t going to be able to effectively fight against something until you have a good idea of what you’re fighting against. Doing your homework also focuses your sense of urgency and compassion, It helps you define what you object to about the problem. I know the more I researched on the problem of malnutrition, the more passionate I became about finding and implementing the solution.
3. Identify solutions
Next you need to identify all the potential solutions before deciding which one(s) you want to implement. The more possible solutions you find the more likely it is that you will be able to discover an effective solution. You can brain-storm for ideas. The purpose of brain-storming is to collect together a long list of possibilities. It does not matter whether the ideas are useful or practical or manageable: just write down the ideas as they come into your head. Talk to other people and get their ideas. The aim is to collect as many alternative solutions as possible.
4. Select a possible solution
This is when you have your “aha” moment. From the list of possible solutions you can sort out which ones are realistic and manageable. Some smaller solutions actually lead to bigger ones. Think about the outcomes to possible solutions and also check with other people what they think the outcomes may be. When you have explored the consequences, you can use this information to identify the solution which is most likely to have the best outcomes. The light bulb comes on!
5. Implement the solution
Once you have selected a possible solution you are ready to put it into action. You will need to have energy and motivation to do this because implementing the solution will take a lot of time and effort. Begin by planning a strategy which will include goals, policies, programs, actions, decisions and allocation of resources.
Remember, your success rests in part on tapping into the public capacity for compassion and being able to get others involved.
Problem solving is bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be, what you see and what you want to see, who you are and who you want to be.