Effective product design is all about problem-solving. You’re bound to encounter obstacles in the design process, and you need to know how to overcome them. What’s the key to better problem-solving? Take a look at these three tips to improve your problem-solving skills:

Define the problem

This might sound obvious, but you can’t delve into problem-solving unless you know how to define the problem well. As Albert Einstein once famously proclaimed, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” How do you know if you have adequately defined the problem? Well, you should be able to easily, coherently, and concisely explain it.

Look at the details

A high-level or bird’s-eye view will only get you so far when it comes to effective problem-solving. Basically, you need to dive in and get an up-close look at the nitty gritty details. That means understanding how even the smallest component of your product works and how it fits into the bigger picture.

Change your perspective

If you’re struggling to come up with the solution to a design problem and if you keep re-examining the problem from the same angle, you aren’t going to magically find a solution. A change in perspective will allow you to see the problem or issue in a new way and help you make new connections that will lead to an innovative solution. This is called creative problem-solving. “The whole idea behind creative problem-solving is the assumption that you know something that will help solve this problem, but you’re not thinking of it right now,” said Art Markman, a cognitive psychologist and the author of “Smart Thinking.” “The more different ways you describe the problem you’re trying to solve, the more different things you know about that you will call to mind.”

If you’re not quite sure how to get a new perspective, it helps to consider who else has faced the kind of problem that you are facing — and how they solved it. “When you begin to realize that the problem you’re trying to solve has been solved over and over again by people in other areas, you can look at the solutions they came up with to help you solve your own,” Markman said.

Consider this: Vacuum cleaners actually used to have bags, but they were always getting clogged and causing all sorts of problems for the consumer. Then James Dyson came along and figured out a better, more effective way to separate the dirt from the air. But Dyson actually got the idea for his now-famous Dual Cyclone vacuum from sawmills, which use an industrial cyclone to separate sawdust from air. In other words, he looked outside of the vacuum industry for a solution and modified what he found to suit his problem.

Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with strengths in software development, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial design. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.