Entrepreneurial Skill #3: Problem-solving

Once one takes a plunge into entrepreneurial waters, problem solving is the most important skill they need to develop. The right mix of analytical and creative thinking is a prerequisite for being able to take on complex, multifaceted problems without being intimidated by them.

The best part of Day #3 was turning a relaxing sunny afternoon for Fudan University students into a creatively competitive problem-solving activity.

We started off with giving students a piece of paper with these puzzles on it. They were told that everyone that manages to solve them would get a free book from famous entrepreneurs’ reading lists.

I loved how most students didn’t want help or hints, but were excited to take on the challenge and figure it out on their own. About 10 minutes later, some of them started coming back excited and proud they had figured out the solutions.

[You can take some time and try to solve them. Scroll down if you don’t manage to and want to check out the solution.]

Everyone that figured out the first part was given the final puzzle.

This part was fascinating.

People started breaking the figure down in triangles and some really creative shapes. Everyone struggled with it.

It is actually the easiest puzzle they got. Just divide the rectangle with six parallel lines. But since they were expecting it to be difficult, the easy and simple solution was not obvious.

For some participants, I had to specifically state that this was the easiest one out of all puzzles. And then I could see them starting to laugh and immediately figure it out.

Sometimes we just need a reminder. Some problems are much easier than we make them be. The attitude with which we approach problems is just as important as our intellectual ability to tackle them.

I came across this one piece of advice that I have been applying in my work. Whenever I feel stuck with a project or overwhelmed trying to find a solution, I take a step back and ask myself just one question: What would this look like if it was easy?

This is a journal entry of my third day of the IMPROVE program by the WEF Global Shapers Community where I am practicing core entrepreneurial skills in unconventional ways while engaging local Shanghai entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs to-be.