Solving Impossible Problems That are Possible
Thinking to Solve Impossible Problems
Leading an organization may feel like you are going through an ongoing tug-of-war with competing demands you have every day. Solving the impossible is one of those tasks.
Have you ever had a problem you were unable to solve? When you are facing a problem, do you tell yourself, “There is a way to solve this?” or do you say to yourself, “There’s no way I can do this.” or “There’s no way to solve this problem.” Which one are you? Many like the challenge, while others avoid it like the plague.
Perceived impossibilities confront you or are placed before you. Can you handle them, or do you quit while you’re ahead? Too many people automatically quit because you believe you can’t create a possibility out of an impossible task. The problem then becomes how you think about the task. Your job as a leader is to get your teams to deliver results, even with the most impossible tasks, projects, and ideas you say your company can do.
“Reaching for the moon” is a phrase that denotes trying to achieve the impossible. Most solutions to problems lie where the problem is. Before you can solve a problem, you need to understand the actual issue or what the actual problem is. How can you solve something that seems an unsolvable problem?
There is no such thing as a problem that does not have a resolution. There are only solutions that are not acceptable to certain individual. In reality, there is no unsolvable problem. To solve what is thought of as an unsolvable problem requires a review of the situation with an understanding of the actual problem itself.
“Impossible only means that you haven’t found the solution yet.” ~ Anonymous
Every day you’re presented with what seem like impossible challenges. How do you approach these impossible challenges? You first need to view them from different perspectives. Making the impossible possible is too difficult for most. This is because you don’t think outside for possibilities. This requires you to be open-minded.
In today’s world, the impossible is no longer not possible, it is what you strive for, as there is no such thing as impossible. To make the impossible possible, you must believe it is possible. We commonly use the word “problem” to mean something that is wrong and requires a solution.
Is the Traditional Problem-Solving Process Obsolete?
“Business is all about solving people's problems – at a profit.” ~ Paul Marsden
All traditional problem-solving processes are pretty much the same. When you’re facing a problem, do you try to use the same process you use with every other problem? You may have trouble overcoming an obstacle to solving a problem using traditional methods. You may be required to think differently and go beyond the obvious for greater results.
Traditional problem-solving techniques can’t solve tough problems. They can typically solve conventional ordinary problems. The tough ones need more thinking and different ways to solve instead of returning to the problem to fix it a second time.
Identify Impossible Problems
“All it takes is one idea to solve an impossible problem.” ~ Robert H. Schuller
How you think about a situation, whether it is an easy or difficult task or idea, says a lot about how you can handle other situations that are similar. For many, identifying impossible problems is simple – if I don’t have the skills, I can’t do it. Some say, “I won’t try”, and others don’t even look at the problem because they don’t want to put any effort into anything new or anything they have not encountered before.
Look at the problem from a different viewpoint. Solving tough problems requires a mindset shift. Identify which assumptions are valid; which assumptions need to be addressed.
“If it’s an impossible problem, then the solution and result is harder for a competitor to replicate.” ~ Leon Shivamber
The Top-Down Approach
“Impossible only means that you haven’t found the solution yet.” – Anonymous
The Top-Down Approach to problem solving is an effective way to start this process.
Write down the issue, and then come up with a one-sentence solution. The solution should be a general statement of what will solve the problem. If your first effort to solve it fails, re-think different ways to solve the problem from different perspectives. Break the problem down and solve the problem by parts.
Impossible is a Failure Word
Eliminate the word impossible from your thinking and speaking vocabularies. It sets off a chain reaction of other thoughts that you don’t want to allow into your circumstances. Believe instead, “There is a way to solve this problem.”
Re-Framing to Solve Impossible Problems
“If a problem can't be solved within the frame it was conceived, the solution lies in reframing the problem.” ~ Brian McGreevy
Tap into your hidden brain network to solve the unsolvable. Consider a different set of options to solve the problem beyond what you initially thought. Reframing can open the door to many opportunities and possibilities.
Reframing means changing your perspective on a problem by looking at it from different angles and defining it differently. Usually, it will involve rewording your problem statement in a way that changes how you approach the challenge.
Choose Your “Mission Impossible”
“Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare.” ~ Muhammad Ali
Thought experiments are a classic tool used by many great thinkers. They enable us to explore impossible situations and predict their implications and outcomes. Thought provoking ways to solve impossible problems are to think different as the cornerstone to creating breakthrough ideas.
Pick a project that brings a new dimension to your idea. Do not lose the enthusiasm and believe that with your knowledge, effort, and determination, everything is possible.
“With practice the impossible becomes routine.” ~ Unknown Author
Ask the Right Questions
Asking the right questions is a critical step in solving impossible problems. Ask yourself WHY you want to solve this problem. Re-evaluate your problem statement as it may assume too much. It might be too wordy for what you are really looking for. Keep asking questions to find the answer you need to complete your project.