Investors ask startup founders during a pitch: What problem are you trying to solve?
Consumers these days subconsciously or directly want to know: How can you solve a problem I have?
A boss or colleagues come to you with a question: What is the solution to this problem?
It seems our modern lives are characterized by problems! Pain points all around! But consider this: problems keep people busy. If you’re trying to be productive, you hit a curve. If you’re pursuing meaning, you encounter adversity. And amidst all this, your ability to solve problems is called forth and tested.
How about you include in your design the very idea that you’re a problem solver?
Sounds like a good problem, right? Let’s make this notion a bit concrete by looking at some principles and steps to becoming a problem solver.
Define the Problem
Kumail Nanjiani recently appeared on the Ellen Show, and in this clip he talked about how he was angry all day, yelling at people, honking, etc. And then he had a glass of water and realized he was just thirsty. Dehydration was the problem.
It’s a funny bit. But it also introduces the first principle/step neatly. (Thank you, Kumail.)
Define the problem. Spend time on it. Understand the dimensions of the problem. Get to its root cause.
To do this, employ the 5 Whys Technique. Developed by Sakichi Toyoda, whose son created car-maker brand Toyota, this method requires you to ask why 5 times to uncover a problem with multiple root causes. Or simply to arrive at the right question or problem. The fifth iteration is anecdotally observed to be enough in exploring cause-and-effect relationships. But you can go as high as sixth, seventh, eighth, and so on.
Another handy tool is related to the Socratic Method. Wait, you’ve heard this one before. I’m referring to inductive reasoning. This kind of reasoning starts with a conclusion you want to prove to be true.
Here’s how it can be applied. In charge of tourism efforts in your area, you conduct a focus group discussion on how to improve. You find out that a lack of transportation options is preventing people from exploring your sights. So you recommend close coordination with neighboring local areas to set up a point-to-point transport system.
In inductive reasoning, the premises seek to supply proof of the truth of a conclusion. You cannot, however, arrive logically at the certainty of the conclusion. By this approach, you can only obtain the probable cause of the problem. To better understand how it works, watch this Crash Course video on the subject:
Solo-Brainstorm 3 (or More) Solutions
You’ve reached the key step. This is important. A friend shared this with me, and it changed my perspective. If you’re given a problem or found one on your own, identify 3 solutions. I don’t mean, call a meeting and let people throw ideas. I mean, sit down, unleash your creativity, and come up with your ideas. It’s good exercise for your brain.
But there are also two reasons I’m encouraging you to go on an express solo-brainstorming session.
First, people’s creativity is unleashed when they’re asked to generate ideas privately. You read that right. Generating ideas is an individual task. You don’t need the company’s collective mind to birth ideas. Instead, teamwork is required when initial ideas have been gathered and sorted. That is when you need more heads to build on ideas with the highest potential.
Second, and this is for the greater good, it’s more productive to present solutions instead of problems. Absorb that statement. Perhaps recall how someone—a colleague or a friend—approached you with a laundry list of problems. And that person kept ranting the whole time. While it’s also cool to ask if they want to brainstorm solutions with you, you’d probably have liked it better if they consulted you with solutions instead.
It’s like, “Hey, boss/friend/partner/parent, what do you think of these solutions to our/your/my problem?” Wouldn’t that be a good use of everyone’s time? And let’s admit, listening to rants can be draining.
Share Your Hypotheses With Others
So, you have defined the problem and identified possible solutions. It’s time to see if your ideas hold water. This is the part where the teamwork comes in (from the earlier example). But if you’re working on a personal problem, inviting fresh eyes is just as necessary.
If you have a framework that you want everyone to use, share it with them, too. The 80/20 method is useful at this stage. Instead of proving or disproving the validity of each hypothesis, you can determine the most meaningful ones. Which among the proposed solutions will create the greatest impact? This is a good starting ground, especially if you’re working as a unit and potential solutions abound.
Check out the image below for one way to approach this phase:
As you can see above, you’re now encouraged to validate your hypotheses. In fact, if you can test your biggest assumptions more quickly, the better.
The example IBM gave relates to creating prototypes. But you can also try to apply that in your personal life. For instance, you can test your assumptions right away, such as in considering a more sustainable lifestyle. Just figure out how to do it without spending too much or wasting resources. Otherwise, it will kind of miss the point.
Analyze the Best Solution
Now, you may have reached the end stage of your problem-solving journey. At least for that one problem you’re working on. (There will be more to come. You know this.)
You might be thinking: What end stage? Didn’t you already apply the best solution in the previous step? Perhaps the proper term for this phase is post-mortem. That has nothing to do with anyone dying. But it has everything to do with the solution you just executed.
You should now evaluate if it was able to solve the problem. Are there aspects of the execution that you didn’t expect? What did you correctly predict? If it didn’t solve the problem, are you back at square one? Or can you move forward by integrating another hypothesis?
That’s a lot of questions! The questions never stop! I feel you. But it’s important to continue the process as long as your problem isn’t solved. But if you got it the first time, good for you. Now it’s time to solve another. What do you say about that, genius?
Bonus: Take Credit For What You Did
There’s a part of us that wants to share the glory with other people. Here’s an example. You’re interviewing for your dream job. The interviewer asks you to tell him or her about a time you solved a problem. Most people are hesitant to share their “most triumphant stories,” says HR expert Liz Ryan. They have to understand the person asking already knows you were working on it with a team.
“Just tell your problem-solving story and be proud of yourself for jumping in to make a positive impact way back when,” adds Ryan.
Two things to glean from this.
First, do not disqualify yourself from the job. You are a problem solver. So own your problem-solving stories. That doesn’t automatically mean you’re hogging the spotlight or discrediting your collaborators. Chances are you have solved a problem before, on your own or with others. How did you approach the situation? Is there something you can do to replicate what you did or revise it for future use?
Those questions lead us to the second point. And that is to keep refining your approach. Different problems require different approaches. Even one problem can be solved by looking at it from different angles. So, grow the confidence in your ability by trying out new things. Don’t rest on your laurels. You’re just as good as the last problem you solved.
Corporate Gifts in the UK: Trends, Tips, and Effective Practices
In the bustling world of business, it’s the little things that often mean the most. As we navigate the evolving landscape of corporate gifting in the UK, it’s time we shed a light on the trends steering the ship and the golden rules that make a gift go from ‘meh’ to ‘marvellous’. Buckle up, because we’re about to sprinkle a little magic on the corporate world!
The Bespoke Wonderland
Imagine receiving a gift that WonderDays specially selected for you, with every last detail calling your name! Bespoke gifts are all about that; they echo familiarity, a hint of homeliness in the corporate jungle. It’s about crafting experiences that resonate with individual tastes, championing the uniqueness of every relation. So, let’s champion gifts that tell a story, shall we?
The Green Revolution
We are all aboard the sustainability train, aren’t we? The corporate gifting scene is no different, with businesses now leaning towards green and glorious options.
It’s all about marrying elegance with responsibility, choosing gifts that hold meaning while treading lightly on our dear earth. Trust us; a little green goes a long way!
Supporting Local Artisans
Oh, how we love a gift that tells a tale of craftsmanship and passion! Turning to the local artisans of the UK and the vibrant stages of the West End theatre shows, we find treasures steeped in stories, waiting to add a splash of authenticity and warmth to corporate gifting.
The Ethical Compass
We know the rules can be a tad bit dizzying, but hey, we’ve got to play it fair and square, right? Navigating the legal pathways ensures our gifting adventures are both delightful and above board. It’s a delicate dance, balancing joy with responsibility, crafting memories while staying within the golden lines of ethics.
Gifts that scream ‘you’ are the ones that hit home, aren’t they? Delving into the realm of personalisation, we uncover gifts that speak to the heart, echoing understanding, and shared moments. Let’s champion gifts that aren’t just objects but mirrors reflecting shared stories, memories, and a sprinkle of personal magic.
Ah, the joy of unveiling a tech gadget that promises to sprinkle a little ease and a lot of fun in daily routines!
The corporate world is embracing tech gifts that are sleek, useful, and oh-so-cool. Think of gifts that are a nod to the future, promising not just utility but a dash of wonder and the joy of exploration.
Gifts that Live and Breathe
Who said gifts have to come in boxes? Experiential gifts are the talk of the town, offering adventures, learning experiences, and moments that live on in memories. It’s about gifting experiences that resonate, offering a slice of joy that goes beyond the tangible, diving deep into the world of experiences that exhilarate the senses.
ROI – The Cherry on the Cake
Yes, we’re talking business, but who says it can’t be delightful? Understanding the ROI of corporate gifting brings a new dimension to the scene, ensuring the act of giving circles back, fostering connections, nurturing relationships, and bringing a ray of sunshine in the corporate corridors.
As we embrace the vibrant world of corporate gifting in the UK, let’s remember that at the heart of it all lies the joy of connecting, of understanding, and of crafting memories that resonate. So, as you step into this journey, may your gifts echo warmth, understanding, and a sparkle of joy that lights up the corporate world, one magical gift at a time.
6 Housing Options People are Turning to as Prices Continue to Climb
There’s no denying the housing market has been anything but smooth sailing for both renters and buyers. For one, interest rate hikes have made mortgages less affordable for most of the population, which has left buyers looking to invest in property having to find alternative housing options that fit their budgets.
Another complication driving buyers towards other options is that there are not enough houses to meet demand, so many buyers lose multiple bids and then get tired of the chase. Losing 10 bids in a row will make the house hunting journey lose all its excitement very quickly.
It’s no wonder other options such as a container home start to become more appealing. Which housing option would be right for you, then? Let’s dive in.
First, Why is the Housing Market Under Strain?
For years, the US enjoyed low interest rates that allowed buyers to secure affordable mortgages but with inflation rates rising and the cost of living at record highs, the interest rate honeymoon has officially ended. Higher mortgages for landlords have also pushed up the prices of rentals, making them much less affordable.
As we mentioned above, most houses end up fetching higher than their asking price after bidding wars, where many would-be buyers miss out on their dream home more than once. You can imagine how absolutely disheartening this is, because after all, there is a lot of emotion tied to buying a home.
Naturally, buyers who keep ending up disappointed and back to square one after every offer they put in will eventually feel like giving up. Many have turned to alternative housing solutions that offer a more minimalistic, affordable and nomadic lifestyle.
One surprising alternative housing option that is starting to gain momentum is designing a micro home within a shipping container. They can be decked out with windows and doors and fitted with a kitchen and bathroom. Containers are generally 20ft long, so they’re unassumingly big and can fit a fair amount of furniture in the interior. While compact, shipping containers offer portability, so they can be assembled in beautiful locations such as the woodlands or on a lake.
What started with a few documentaries about people living in tiny homes has turned into something of a social movement with people across the world downscaling their living situations for smaller homes.
The tiny house movement advocates for a simplified life with less “stuff”, giving you more financial freedom to travel and invest in experiences. These homes are fashioned from sheds, playhouses, containers and even tree houses, with some even being small enough to be popped onto a trailer for nomadic homeowners.
If you’ve ever been to London and taken a stroll along the River Thames, you will notice a number of houseboats anchored to the dock. While it may be a foreign concept to some and turn the stomachs of those who suffer from motion sickness, the concept of a houseboat is nothing new in most countries around the world.
House boats offer a compact living space for those who are adventure seekers and water lovers. They are also motorized to take you on relaxing cruises within the body of water your boat is located in. Drinks at sunset on your private houseboat deck sounds like the perfect way to destress after a long day.
Many families and couples have sold their traditional homes in favor of adopting a more nomadic lifestyle by renovating RVs to hit the road in style. You can really go all out with sprucing up your RV, going so far as to install laminate floors, quartz kitchen counters, chandeliers and soak-in tubs.
Being on the road doesn’t mean you have to give up the luxuries and comforts you are accustomed to. While undoubtedly more compact, RVs can offer a comfortable way of life for those seeking adventure.
Many homeowners purchased homes while the interest rates were still low and then struggled to cover their mortgage repayments when they were hit with big price hikes. Of course, the banks and repo man don’t care that you suddenly can’t afford your repayments, so you need to make a plan.
What many people who found themselves in this situation have done is share their home with a friend, family member or advertise for a roommate. This way, you are getting help with your mortgage repayment through your roommate’s rent and can manage your repayments more comfortably.
Airbnb Empty Rooms or Self-contained Cottages
If you have an empty ensuite room in your home or a self-contained cottage on the property, you can rent it out through Airbnb and bring in a decent income that can help you pay off your mortgage faster.
Despite a tumultuous housing market making the barriers to entry for homeowners much more difficult, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The trend of adopting an alternative lifestyle with a mobile home, finding a roommate or renting out a portion of your home all offer ways to own a home for less in these tough times.
Strategies for Building an Effective Dota 2 Team
Competitive video game tournaments have become increasingly popular over the past few years, with many players vying to be part of the best Dota 2 teams. For those unfamiliar with the game, Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. In the game, two teams of five players battle for control of a map and try to destroy the other team’s ancient structure ultimately.
Players from all over the world come together in teams to compete in professional tournaments and leagues, with the top teams and players winning massive prize pools. Dota 2 is a complex game, and in order to be successful, each team needs to have a balance between individual skill, team synergy, and understanding of the meta. Here are the other strategies for building an effective Dota 2 team.
Consider the Individual Skills of Each Team Member
In order to create an effective Dota 2 team, it is important to consider the individual skills of each team member. A successful team is composed of players who can work well together to execute strategies, coordinate objectives, and ultimately win. It is also important to remember that each team member brings unique abilities to the team, and these skills must be taken into account when forming a team. By fully utilizing each player’s unique abilities, teams can create a powerful synergy that makes them stronger as a unit.
Develop a Team Strategy and Plan
A powerful team strategy and plan are essential for any Dota 2 team looking to be successful. Not only does it provide an advantage against opponents, but it is a crucial tool for team coordination, team building, and communication. With a well-thought-out and structured team strategy and plan, players have a clear understanding of the team’s expectations and goals. This allows the team to see the bigger picture, think creatively, and come up with the most effective strategies in order to capitalize on the strengths and capitalize on weaknesses of their opponents.
Foster Team Communication and Collaboration
In a competitive Dota 2 match, communication and collaboration are essential. It is important to bring players together who understand each other and can work together to develop a strategy that will be successful. Communication and collaboration allow the team to make decisions quickly and efficiently so that all five team members can work together in harmony and understand the importance of their individual roles.
Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
Identifying individual team members’ strengths and weaknesses is the key to unlocking a successful, productive, and cohesive team. It’s an important part of team building and can be the difference between success and failure.
When you have a clear understanding of each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, you can leverage them to create an effective team. For example, suppose you have one team member who is particularly strong when it comes to strategy and analysis. In that case, you can assign them tasks that require those skills while assigning other tasks to team members that excel in other areas.
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