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Sudoku for Beginners: How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills
Are you a beginner when it comes to solving Sudoku puzzles? Do you find yourself frustrated and unsure of where to start? Fear not, as we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to improve your problem-solving skills through Sudoku.
Understanding the Basics of Sudoku
Before we dive into the strategies and techniques, let’s first understand the basics of Sudoku. A Sudoku puzzle is a 9×9 grid that is divided into nine smaller 3×3 grids. The objective is to fill in each row, column, and smaller grid with numbers 1-9 without repeating any numbers.
Starting Strategies for Beginners
As a beginner, it can be overwhelming to look at an empty Sudoku grid. But don’t worry. There are simple starting strategies that can help you get started. First, look for any rows or columns that only have one missing number. Fill in that number and move on to the next row or column with only one missing number. Another strategy is looking for any smaller grids with only one missing number and filling in that number.
Advanced Strategies for Beginner/Intermediate Level
Once you’ve mastered the starting strategies, it’s time to move on to more advanced techniques. One technique is called “pencil marking.” This involves writing down all possible numbers in each empty square before making any moves. Then use logic and elimination techniques to cross off impossible numbers until you are left with the correct answer.
Another advanced technique is “hidden pairs.” Look for two squares within a row or column that only have two possible numbers left. If those two possible numbers exist in both squares, then those two squares must contain those specific numbers.
Benefits of Solving Sudoku Puzzles
Not only is solving Sudoku puzzles fun and challenging, but it also has many benefits for your brain health. It helps improve your problem-solving skills, enhances memory and concentration, and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
In conclusion, Sudoku is a great way to improve your problem-solving skills while also providing entertainment. With these starting and advanced strategies, you’ll be able to solve even the toughest Sudoku puzzles. So grab a pencil and paper and start sharpening those brain muscles.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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The problem solving loop
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What is the OODA Loop?
The OODA Loop is a Model that summarizes Problem-Solving Processes in 4 simple Steps .
- It is commonly used in Professional Problem-Solving situations.
Its name is an acronym for the 4 Steps it Proposes :
Four Steps of the OODA Loop
1. Observe : Analyze the Problem and Collect as much data as Possible.
- How often this Problem takes place, When, Under which Circumstances, etc.
2. Orient : Study the Data and find different ways to tackle the Problem .
- Problems can always be addressed in more than one way.
3. Decide : Establish How the Problem will be Addressed .
- And what Strategy will be employed.
4. Act : Implement the Necessary Actions to Solve the Problem.
- Establishing Schedules, Goals and Metrics.
This cycle should be Repeated Indefinitely until the Problem is completely Solved .
Let’s see the first example:
OODA Loop example
This Problem-solving Approach is widely used in Industry .
In the Manufacturing line there are many Problems whose Solution is not always obvious.
- Small defects that alter the final product.
- Omitted operations.
- Raw materials with defects.
The most common mistake is to Settle for the first explanation found.
- And keep going.
Usually this results in the Problem not being Solved Correctly because the data has not been analyzed deeply enough.
Process engineers follow the OODA Loop constantly (whether they know it or not) by analyzing the Data, finding the Root cause of problems, and Implementing the best possible Solutions.
* If you are interested in the Root Cause approach, we suggest you to visit:
- Root Cause Analysis .
There, we explain different Problem-Solving Methods that focus specially on Root Causes.
We know that this method seems pretty obvious.
- In fact, it is some of the most obvious Methods we have explained so far.
Therefore, How can it be of any help?
How can you take advantage of the OODA Loop?
How to Use the OODA Loop
It is an Easy Guideline to Remember .
- Remembering the acronym OODA and what it means is very simple .
It contains the Essence of all Problem-Solving Processes .
- A Careful Analysis , Reflect on the Alternatives , Act and Repeat the cycle.
It can be Taught to people Unfamiliar with Problem-Solving methods .
- Technicians or Specialized workers can easily use and Remember it.
It is not as Obvious as it seems .
- This model Reminds us that we have to Stop , Think , Analyze and Act .
The best way to understand the OODA Loop and how you can use it is by sharing some examples with you:
OODA Loop examples
We have chosen 3 different situations in which the OODA Loop can be of great Help .
- And we explain How to use it.
Negotiating - OODA Loop example
A good Negotiation is not one in which both parties discuss positions, but one in which both parties Reconcile Common Interests .
And the best way to seek Common Interests is to Analyze the needs of the other party .
The next time you are in a Negotiation, we suggest you this:
- Observe the Issues that the Other Party highlights or mentions the Most.
- Orient the conversation towards those Issues.
- Decide how the two of you can get something good out of these Issues.
- Act : Propose Agreements on those Matters, which you consider fair for both parties.
Then, you should Repeat this cycle, until the two of you come to an Agreement .
Starting a New Project - OODA Loop example
In New Projects , the OODA Loop can be of Great Help.
It helps you define your Products and approach your Customers in the most effective way.
If you Start a New Project or Develop a New Product:
- Observe what People Consume, How Often, Their Preferences , etc.
- Orient your Product or Project to fulfill the needs of your potential Customers.
- Decide the appropriate Price , Marketing Campaign, etc.
- Act : Launch a Beta Product.
Once you have information about your Beta Product, Repeat the Cycle until your Product is Perfect .
Improving a Skill - OODA Loop example
The OODA Loop can be used in your day to day .
- As it is a very versatile method, you can use it in your personal life.
You can use it for improving your Skills , for example.
- Observe what it takes to Master a Skill that you would like to improve.
- Orient your analysis to include your Actual Capabilities .
- Decide what Learning method and Approaches would be the best.
- Act : Start Practicing and Create a Schedule with your Progress.
You should repeat this cycle, Checking your Personal Progress and trying New Approaches .
The OODA Loop is a Model that summarizes the Problem-Solving Process in 4 simple Steps.
- Observe : Analyze the Problem and Collect as much data as Possible.
- Orient : Study the Data and find different ways to tackle the Problem.
- Decide : Establish How the Problem will be Addressed.
- Act : Implement the Necessary Actions to Solve the Problem.
How to take advantage of the OODA Loop:
- It is an Easy Guideline to Remember.
- It contains the Essence of a Problem-Solving Process.
- It can be Taught to people Unfamiliar with Problem-Solving methods.
- It is not as Obvious as it seems.
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Technique 6.1: Structured Problem Solving
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As we have mentioned, the Evolve Loop defines and encompasses the Solve Loop. The structured problem solving process puts some context around the practices of the Solve Loop. The Solve Loop is not intended to be a linear or sequential model. The practices operate as independent entities, and they are used as needed in responding to requests. The structured problem solving process provides direction on how to use the Solve Loop practices in an effective way.
In some respects, problem solving is an art. However, we have found that a little bit of structure in the problem solving process can help improve the outcome. The structure of the KCS article also helps reinforce an effective approach to problem solving.
Consider a crime scene: the first thing the police do when a crime is reported is to preserve and record the situation. The first officers to arrive on the scene are trained to secure the area; they mark the location of the evidence and bodies and take pictures. When the detective shows up to solve the crime, they first seek to understand the situation, then begin to ask clarifying questions, and then eventually go off to do research.
The structured problem solving process involves application of the four practices in the Solve Loop. It helps the responders collect, organize, and analyze the information used in solving the issue. Note that there are different skills used in different steps in the problem solving process, and, as a result, different responders or collaborators may be involved in each step.
Having explicit techniques in the workflow not only improves the problem solving process, but also creates a KCS article as a by-product of the problem solving process. The structured problem solving process in KCS includes two simple, yet powerful, concepts:
- Seek to understand before we seek to solve (a Core Concept)
- Search early, search often (a Solve Loop technique)
First, we seek to understand the situation in the requestor's context, and we capture it to preserve it. Then we seek to understand what we collectively know about the issue (search the knowledge base). These concepts are not unique to KCS; Charles Kepner and Benjamin Tregoe outline these same problem-solving methodologies in The Rational Manager , as does Stephen R. Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People .
Searching will sometimes result in finding articles that describe similar situations. While perhaps not perfect for our situation, articles about similar issues can provide additional insight or trigger qualifying questions that we had not thought of. This complements what we know about analyzing this kind of issue. If an existing article is not found after refining our search a few times, we start the diagnostic process. We tap into our problem solving experience and use whatever tools are relevant. We continue to ask clarifying questions. As we build a richer understanding of the issue, we check the knowledge base frequently. If we do not find anything pertinent to the situation in the knowledge base, and we cannot resolve the problem, we then collaborate with others or escalate the issue for more additional research .
Managing the Conversation
We are seeing better integration of the various systems the responders use to resolve issues. However, if systems are not integrated and we have to use multiple systems and screens to handle issues, this section is relevant. In environments where we need to use multiple applications to get the job done - for example, a case or incident management system that keeps track of the events, and a separate knowledge management system that houses the KCS article - it's helpful to design the KCS workflow to manage the conversation in order to minimize the need to jump back and forth between systems.
Deal with the administrative elements at the beginning (contact initiation) and end of each contact (wrap up) - not interspersed throughout the resolution process. This approach will allow focus on the objective of problem solving.
Problem solving is a collaborative process. Ask any responder what they do when they realize they are working on something new or unfamiliar and they will tell you they reach out to their peers: they collaborate. All too often they do it i n spite of the traditional processes and escalation rules. What if our process and infrastructure facilitated collaboration instead of inhibited it?
Support Analysts have collaborated for years using tools like email and instant messenger or just asking others nearby: the "prairie dog" support model (over the cubicle wall). These are helpful but limited in their effectiveness. We are seeing some significant infrastructure improvements integrated into the responder user interface that facilitate collaboration.
The opportunity to improve the effectiveness of collaboration lies in our ability to know things like availability, who knows what, and who is interested in what. Effective collaboration, or what we call Intelligent Swarming, is a function of relevance. By relevance we mean that for a given issue, we want to bring together the best resources we have (people and/or content) to solve the issue. To accomplish this we have to know something about the issue and something about our resources, content, and people. Earlier versions of KCS focused on capturing the collective experience of the organization in a KCS article (content). What is emerging is the idea of people profiles that capture both the experiences and interests of the people.
Just as a search gives us access to the past experience of others through the KCS article, we could improve the relevance of collaboration by providing access to the people profiles. Where KCS helps connect people to content or knowledge for known issues, Intelligent Swarming helps connect people to people for new issues.
The Consortium members have been working for some time to bring the concept of Intelligent Swarming to operational reality. An increasing number of members have moved their organizations from an escalation-based model to a collaboration-based model. They are realizing amazing benefits. For more information, see the Intelligent Swarming initiative on the Consortium web site.
We have learned some things from skills-based routing. Most organizations that have done it report mediocre results. The issue is that if the profiles are detailed enough to be helpful in getting an issue to the right person, they are difficult to create. If they are created, the dynamics of the environment make them impossible to maintain. On the other hand, if the skills profiles are at the level of detail where they are creatable and maintainable, they are not specific enough to be very accurate in routing.
We have come to the conclusion that the people profiles must be largely programmatic or maintained by the system and tunable by the people in order to reflect interests. The experiences of a Support Analyst, or any responder, change on a week-to-week basis.
Some operational examples of enabling collaboration:
- Simple version - launch instant messenger (without leaving the problem solving environment - see the prototype user interface on the next page)
- Sophisticated version - finds relevant people based on the information captured in the incident or WIP article
- People finder capabilities
- Directed swarm - a team of people triage all incoming issues or a team of people work on any reported severity 1 issues. This takes the KCS concept of collective ownership of knowledge and applies it to incidents. A different view on incident ownership: distinguish ownership of response from ownership to solve. An individual is responsible to respond to the customer but the team owns resolution of the issue. ( See the BMC case study .)
- Enabling visibility to all open incidents and filters that allow responders to see the incidents they might be able to solve or assist with. This enables an opt-in model; people choose to help.