As a small business owner and master in the field of jigsaw puzzles, I've found that problem-solving is like completing a jigsaw puzzle. There are several steps to go through in order to complete a puzzle efficiently and effectively.
The excitement of starting a jigsaw puzzle begins the minute that I select a puzzle to work on. Choosing the right puzzle is my first step in the problem-solving equation and can set the tone for my puzzling experience. Some questions that I ask myself are:
Having a good plan on what to purchase surely sets the tone for a positive and pleasant puzzle experience.
Selecting the piece count is usually the tricky part in selecting my jigsaw puzzle. A few questions that I have to consider are:
Throughout the countless puzzles that I have assembled, I've learned some valuable lessons about life, work, and myself. I've noticed the many similarities of puzzling fun and can compare them to solving problems in the workplace.
Anytime I open a new puzzle I instinctively start turning all of the pieces of the puzzle so that the image on the puzzle is facing up. This is a natural action that I perform and one that starts my puzzle process. I find that it is very important to see the entirety of the problem to gain insight into trying to solve the problem. I want to get an overview and look at the systems, personalities of teammates, and try to assess if the objectives are aligned with the problem.
I assemble the edge pieces of the puzzle before any other pieces. As in a workplace environment, constructing the framework is key to solving a problem. Seeing the frame of the puzzle will define your project and opens you to more than one interpretation of the problem.
Assembling the photo on the box is the goal of the puzzle and keeping the cover on the box visible helps to achieve the goal. Having a clear goal/objective focuses me to achieve the desired output.
I try to break puzzles up into manageable pieces. I develop a strategy at the onset and tackle one section at a time. I decided, for example, I was going to complete the Lite-Brite section of the puzzle before moving on to the Monopoly section. Developing a strategy and breaking a challenge into bite-sized pieces helps you avoid getting overwhelmed. Strategic thinking is a critical leadership skill.
Jigsaw puzzles teach us that forcing what doesn't belong is counterproductive. When you find a piece that doesn't fit it's a great suggestion to try a different strategy. While some people may look like they fit perfectly into a space of the puzzle, they may not be the perfect fit where you are trying to force them into the puzzle. It doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't a key component, but reassessing their place in the puzzle might be warranted. If it isn't working, move on.
I find that when sitting down to assemble a puzzle that it's the small wins, like assembling the blue sky part of a puzzle, that help reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed. Knowing when it's time to walk away for a break, savoring small victories and being productive will help in the problem-solving process.
Everyday challenges can be a bit overwhelming but having a process in place to help assemble the puzzle makes any challenge a bit easier to face. Being able to problem-solve is a life skill that will keep the workplace flowing effortlessly.
Gather your puzzle and get started. It's well worth the effort.
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