Problem Solving-A skill required for survival
Here is an effective way to give children a playground on which they can practice and develop their problem solving skills.
Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.
— Roger Lewin
Problem solving at the Young Executives Club
The Young Executives Club is a meeting place where children in the age group 12–14 meet twice a week on Zoom to make use of various opportunities to express themselves in spoken as well as written form. The last ten months since we first began, I have come to realize something that is so crucial to developing self confidence in children.
Given the opportunities to brainstorm and the assurance that no idea is crazy or stupid, it is amazing to see what children can bring to the table. While working in groups, the brainstorming sessions lead to chain reaction of sorts where one idea leads to another, debates and discussions follow. While it may not be always possible to literally try out those ideas in the real world, it goes a long way in enabling children to think, express themselves and above all realize what they are capable of when given a chance. Take a step back and imagine what would happen, if children could do this on a regular basis, it becomes second nature. They understand the importance of interacting with others for ideas, feedback and support while dealing with a problem. Any problem becomes something that needs to be handled and not to be afraid of.
Take a step back and imagine what would happen, if children could do this on a regular basis, it becomes second nature. They understand the importance of interacting with others for ideas, feedback and support while dealing with a problem. Any problem becomes something that needs to be handled and not to be afraid of.
First activity at the second batch of the Young Executives Club
The members of the second batch of the Young Executives Club met this week to discuss a hypothetical problem that had been brought forward to them by a hypothetical coffee shop owner.
The brief given to them
The owner of this coffee shop is devastated. His coffee shop is generally crowded. But these days, no one comes. Sadly, he may have to shut down. Unless, the Young Executives Club can figure out a way to enable him to survive.
- The coffee shop is located in a good area, on the main road connecting several small startup offices.
- People from these offices drop in regularly.
- The coffee shop is well known for its excellent range of coffees and cold shakes that are nicely teamed with tasty treats.
- The place is well equipped with WiFi too. People who work remotely or freelance can set up their workspace in the coffee shop for a small fee and can work undisturbed for hours together.
- Air conditioned.
Why aren’t people coming anymore?
In the COVID scenario, companies have enabled their employees to work from home. This has proved immensely useful as the cost of renting office space and other expenses incurred in managing an office building is saved. Hence most office spaces in the vicinity are vacant.
Every one’s ideas matter
Having read through the brief, the question on the white board was “How do we help this coffee shop owner to survive? He has come to us seeking help.”
A minute later, the young executives had many ideas to offer. I acted as a scribe and jotted down all their contributions on the white board, trying my best to categorize their strategies as we went along.
They began with the obvious options such as home delivery and went on to come up with innovative solutions such as:
- An app for the coffee shop that enables you to play games and win rewards-coupons to free coffee, free tickets to an online show etc.
- Converting the coffee shop in to an outdoor area with flowers as an attraction to give people the much needed relief that one can derive by being with nature.
- Cost cutting measures by reusing left over ingredients to provide breakfast as an option few times a week.
As the discussion progressed and the obvious choices got exhausted, they had to dig deeper into their own experiences to come up with solutions. In a real life scenario many of their proposed solutions could have hurdles. However, being in problem solving mode would hopefully mean looking for solutions, networking, collaboration and being open to new ideas from all the people involved.