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A lesson from an engineer

When faced with a problem there are six major principles that many engineers look to in order to find a solution. This process doesn’t only apply to tasks specifically designed for engineers. It can be used wherever problem solving may be needed.

  • Identify the problem: Ask a question. How do I get from A to B? How can I get there faster, or more safely? Make it as specific as possible remember you can only solve one problem at a time.
  • Brainstorm: Think of as many potential solutions as possible. No such thing as a bad idea (unless acted upon!). Let the visions flow uninhibited.
  • Design: make a well-informed decision from the many you’ve brainstormed. Weigh the pros and cons. Just like you can only solve one problem at a time, you can only formulate one solution at a time. Choose as wisely. This is the planning process. This is the blueprint. Measure twice and cut once. Think about the plans of your solution in detail.
  • Build: Arguably the most important part of this process is to follow through with action. A drawing of a bridge will not act as a bridge. This is the part where hands get dirty
  • Test: There’s only one way to know if it works! Make quantifiable or qualitative observations and take notes.
  • Improve: Refine the initial question. This is the part where it becomes a cycle, back to the top! How can the solutions be better in the future? Can it be faster, safer or more reliable?

Apply these six steps and you’ll be solving problems left and right and in no time.


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