Four Questions To Solve Any Problem
“Every problem has a solution. You just have to be creative enough to find it.”
– Travis Kalanick.
Solution-focused problem solving emphasises solutions to problems, not the problem. The underlying premise of the solution-focused method is empowerment.
These questions below will help you focus on the times when things are better. Knowing that you have these skills to address obstacles, you will be more confident in your ability to resolve your challenges.
There are times when you need someone to bounce things off of or get another perspective. Coaches (me!) and counsellors are often helpful in those situations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It’s the smart thing to do!
These questions are designed to help you identify what you have available to solve the problem by looking at a time when things were better...
1. The Exploring Change Question
This is fairly basic, but it is worth starting off with this before using one of the other questions. Make a list of things you've done to address the issue.
This allows you to continue to move forward without beating yourself up for lack of progress. The list also gives you a chance to note anything of interest you found out in each step.
Staying motivated can be hard, so anything you can do to acknowledge progress is helpful, especially when it’s in writing.
2. The Scaling Question
The Scaling Question is perhaps your most versatile question. It is content-free and not related to the problem. It makes no assumptions about the direction you need to take, and you can pick from the infinite possibilities available.
For example, someone beginning an exercise program may use this in the contemplation stage of change regarding their physical discomfort before the exercise program.
They could ask: “On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being as good as things get, and 1 being as bad as things get, where am I today?”
Then: “What will it look like when I am at a 4 - what will be different?” And respond: “I will walk up the stairs with less pain and keep up with my friends when we are shopping.”
Another way to use the scaling question, this same person may ask: “On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being as good as things get, and 1 being as bad as things get, where am I today?”
And respond: “Today, I am at a 3.”
Then: “When things were better, what was going on? What was I doing that worked?”
With this new information, you can better plan for success.
3. The Coping Question
This question is great for getting out of crisis mode or when you're overwhelmed by the problem. The purpose is to change the focus from overwhelming elements of the problem to strengths, skills, and experience you have to solve the challenge.
You recall how you coped with similar experiences. What worked? What you can apply from that situation, even if it’s not the total solution to your current issue.
Have you ever dealt with something like this before? How did you cope with it?
You may need to look outside of yourself for support. When looking for support people, you begin by thinking about your inner circle - friends, family, and neighbours.
If there is nobody in the inner-circle, you check the outer-circle of support, a less personal support network. That is usually professional organisations, medical team, people you work with, online communities, and more.
Ultimately, your goal is to develop a plan of action.
If you have no previous experience that applies to a situation, think of others you know that have coped with similar issues. Talk to them about it to get ideas. If necessary, ask online if there’s a community page in your area. Get creative!
4. The Miracle Question
The miracle question is a way of getting outside the problem by suspending reality for a few minutes to dream of a time when things will be better. It can go astray, so follow up questions may be necessary.
Visualise your life without the problem, or with the problem having been solved.
What would it look like? What would it feel like? What would you do differently? How would your life change?
You can write this down, or even meditate on these questions and see what comes up for you.
Use these questions to find clarity and keep yourself on track to finding a solution to whatever is going on in your business and your life.
As always, please book a session with me to get an outside perspective on solving your problems!