A simple approach to solve a problem

At work and outside work, we have many situations for that we need to find a solution to a problem. Here are some example problems to find a solution for:

  • Decide the success criteria of a project.
  • Determine a career track for you.
  • Determine the decision from a data table.
  • Decide which holiday location is right for you, which is in budget and time.

Here are few techniques that I use, to decide the next steps:

  • I attempt to create a simple spreadsheet.
  • I write the desired outcome in a column or in a row, whichever you prefer.
  • I write the next possible outcome/step.
  • I continue the process until you find all your answers.
  • I revisit this process as needed.

Below is an example of a person looking for a job change as a UI developer. This person worked as a UI developer long time ago. She is interested in upgrading her skills, to get a desired job. Let’s look at the decision steps below:

Desired outcomeGet a job as a UI developer
What is the first step?Analyze the current skills set
What is your current skills setI know Javascript, JQuery, CSS, and HTML
Is my current skills set sufficient to get a job at my current desired location?No
If no to previous column, what skills set needs to be added?One of these Javascript frameworks: React, Vue, or Angular
Which framework I want to learn?Not sure
How to decide which framework to learn?Do the market analysis. Understand which one is easier and attractive to learn
How to do the market analysis?Look at jobs on linkedin.com for last 30 days to analyze which one is most and least popular
What is the outcome of the analysis?React is the most popular in my area
How can I learn React JS?1. Find a tutor or an online course
2. Get a book
3. Plan for a dummy project
4. Find time to learn
How much time I need to learn this skill realistically?I will need to read a book. I will need to get an online course too. I will need to create a dummy project also. Reading a 300 page book will take at least 6 hours for me. An online course will need 6 weeks, with 4-6 hours commitment every week. To create a dummy project, I need at least 40 hours. In total, I am looking for roughly 70 hours. Let’s plan for 80 hours. In a week, I can spend no more than 5 hours. With that calculation, I need 16 weeks. It is roughly around 4 months.
Note: I may need time to refer to online resources. I should also plan for at least two weeks unplanned. With this speed of learning plan, I need around 5 months to learn react JS. To learn it quicker than 5 months, I need to increase learning hours per week or reduce the scope of learning.

This is just a basic example of one of an example problem. Depending on the situation, it’s ok to create a flowchart, a decision tree, or a more detailed spreadsheet format. Some possible steps could be to consult a friend or an expert. Add all such steps and update the status of it.

Thank you. As I learn more, I will update this article.

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