And we are blindfolded. While standing on a rocky chair. And holding five watermelons.
Did you know that Erno Rubik, the inventor of Rubik’s cube, once stated that it took him around 3 months to solve it the first time? And… that the current official record for the fastest time to solve a rotating puzzle cube is… 3.47 seconds (by Yusheng Du at the Wuhu Open 2018)?
The American Psychological Association defines problem-solving as “the process by which individuals attempt to overcome difficulties, achieve plans that move them from a starting situation to the desired goal, or reach conclusions through the use of higher mental functions, such as reasoning and creative thinking”. Real-world problem-solving (RWPS) is what we do literally every day. The problem-solving literature divides problems based on clarity (well-defined vs. ill-defined) or the underlying cognitive processes (analytical, memory retrieval, and insight).
Problem-solving is considered to be a soft skill umbrella, as it requires many different human skills. But, of course, we shall not reveal them so easily to you. On the contrary, you are the ones who will… solve the Umbrella Cube. What we can do, though, is present you with the following problems our friends are facing. Read them carefully:
Shara, 10 years old, pupil. Shara’s best friend is throwing a party for her birthday. What tortures Shara is…what to wear.
Option A. Yellow t-shirt, pink trousers, her favorite baseball hat and a hoodie.
Option B. Her swimsuit
Exclamation. It is currently 10oC.
Max, 19 years old, college student. It is dinner time — or in other words, delivery time.
Option A. Noodles (His choice 5 out of 7 days per week)
Option B. Pizza
Exclamation. Max has 10€ to spend until the end of the month. It is currently only the 16th of that month.
Alex, 43 years old, employee. Alex has 4 highly prioritized tasks. He needs to make it on time.
Option A. Asks for help
Option B. Cries in the bathroom
Mrs. Georgia, 81 years old. Mrs. Georgia has 4 doctor’s appointments. Her problem is the following:
Option A. Should she schedule all appointments in one week and finish sooner…
Option B. or do one per week?
It is time to solve the Umbrella Cube! Don’t worry, we won’t expect you to solve it in… 3.47 seconds!
What information about problem-solving can we extract from our friends? Let’s write them down.
Problem-solving is a lifelong process. In order to solve every problem we face daily, so many soft skills are involved.
…If Shara doesn’t want to catch a cold, she must use her critical thinking skills and choose an outfit suitable with the weather.
…We will all agree that Max could use some organizational skills (okay, yes, cooking skills too) if he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his month broke.
… Stressed Alex definitely needs good time-management skills! Flexibility in his working plans would also be beneficial. And, last but not least, a tiny bit of self-confidence wouldn’t hurt!
…Finally, Mrs. Georgia is the GOAT (excl. Greatest Of All Time). She will wear her red sunglasses and go to the pub after the pulmonologist’s appointment.
Next time you will be asked to solve a problem, remember that it is a complex process. However, we can always, ALWAYS, become better solvers. If solving Rubik’s cube took 3 months at first and now it takes almost 3 seconds for an expert to solve it, the way has been paved for all! We shall leave you with simple and easy ways to improve your problem-solving skills:
- Defining the Problem
- Managing Risk
- Managing Emotions