When I started blogging regularly back in the autumn I started with a series of posts about my favourite acronyms. Acronyms sometimes get a raw deal, mistaken for being trite or silly – but actually I think they can be really useful in summarising valuable ideas. In working with researchers for the last six years I’ve shared many (hopefully!) helpful techniques using acronyms. The posts I’m collecting here are eight of my favourites.
How do you approach problems?
Whenever I get stuck on any kind of problem, typically my first thought is “Cup of tea?” – and actually there is a really neat and direct way to start examining the problem and figuring it out.
Whenever we start to think about problems we are often thinking about EFFECTS: we see symptoms, but we may not know what the root cause is. It may be that when we come to solve a problem that if we can treat the symptoms, that will be enough; more often though, we need to address those root causes if we are to have some lasting solution.
We see a similar situation if our problem is more along the lines of not knowing what the next step is in a process or piece of research. How many times have you sat down to do something but not known what to do? How many times have you wondered what you should do next but just gone blank?
Above all other acronyms, mnemonics and mental shortcuts, 5W1H is the thing for you.