How Well You Define a Problem Determines How Well You Solve It

A productivity tip from Albert Einstein.

Here’s a great Albert Einstein quote:

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

Einstein believed the quality of the solution you generate is in direct proportion to your ability to identify the problem you hope to solve.

With that in mind, he believed a key to productivity was to invest your time in defining the problem as opposed to jumping right into dreaming up solutions to it.

To better define the problem, you can do the following:

1. Rephrase the problem.

2. Expose and challenge assumptions.

3. Consider a broader or narrower version of the problem.

4. Rewrite your problem statement from the perspective of different stakeholders.

5. Assume there’s more than one possible solution.

6. Use language to frame the problem in a more exciting way.

7. Reverse the problem and think about what you would do to generate an opposite intended result.

8. Ask yourself questions about the problem. Do research.

Learn more: Einstein’s secret to problem solving.

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