Think Before Acting

Published: Friday, November 6, 2015

One of the most exciting parts of my job tackling tough problems to come up with great solutions. While the journey can be difficult at times, I know that the reward of a job well done outweighs any challenges, risks, or disappointments that will occur along the way. The most valuable lesson I have learned is to think before acting on any decision. Thinking deeply about your upcoming actions prepares you for the twists and turns on the journey to a solution.

I wonder what God's thought process was when creating the universe

How many times in the last month, have you been presented with a problem and just dived in head first to come up with a solution. I personally am wired to go find a solution as quick as possible. I have to really force myself to understand that unless I think about the problem, I usually am going to create a less than optimal result when it is solved.

Tips to think about before acting

  1. Write the problem down. Look at what you wrote. Is the problem on paper the actual problem that you need to solve? Many times, it is only a symptom of a larger more complex problem. This doesn’t mean you have to go solve the bigger issue all the time, but as you craft a solution, you can keep the bigger problem at the forefront of your decision making to chip away at. Then write down all the possible solutions to the problem that you can think of. This is almost a brainstorming session. I like to try and make a game of it to see how many solutions I can find for the problem.
  2. Think about the problem from different lenses. These may be Customer, Business, Technology, etc. By doing this, you will come to a more comprehensive solution.
  3. Invite others into the thinking process once you have some basics in place. Make sure that they are people that will challenge your thought process. Find people that think differently from you. Get a creative mind if you are analytical, or an extroverts viewpoint if you are introverted. These situations may be uncomfortable, but if they think deeply with you, brilliant solutions will appear.
  4. Step away from the problem and return to it at a different time and even a different environment. Sleep on it. I have found that great answers come when I leave a problem overnight to be tackled.

Lately, I have asked each of the developers that I work with to take time before starting their work to write down assumptions of the description that they are given. When this has been done, the quality of the solution, time to market, and overall satisfaction of the work has greatly increased. The ones that jump right in have invariably run into roadblocks that would have been removed by thinking a little longer.

How will you think today about the problems that you are facing? Having an intentional thinking process creates a successful environment for problem solving.