One of the greatest assets any Designer can cultivate is the ability not only to solve problems, but to solve problems on the fly!
Inevitably, due to a quirk in communication, or an accidental shut down of your computer, a problem arises that demands an immediate solution - if not sooner. When it involves your client and their needs, you know your reputation and your paycheck are on the line.
Truly a Designer can find a beautiful solution to any problem given time. The mark of distinction comes to the Designer who can find the beautiful solution in the moment.
What does it take to Problem Solve in the moment? Here are three suggestions :
Be in control : First of all a complete knowledge of the project is a huge asset. Don't skim over details as you are walking through the stages of a project. Be diligent to 'dot the I's and cross T's ' as you go. Keep good records. Then when the unexpected happens you might already be in possession of a solution!
Take control : Be a Time Lord! Do not rush into a guessing game. Rather, gather all the information and carefully analyze the situation. Walk yourself through a process of elimination to arrive at a shortlist of solutions or to accurately see how you arrived at the problem. Note taking is an invaluable tool in this process.
Assume control : Communicate. Being in the moment is stressful - especially when your client perceives they are going to overshoot a deadline! Speak in positive, yet honest terms so that everyone is on the 'same page' - and do so in a timely fashion. As a client waiting for an answer or update, time moves much more slowly than it does for you as you look for the solution.
Problem solving is multi faceted, however being in control of your project from the start, taking control of your project when something goes wrong and assuming control for managing the solution will contribute to finding a beautiful solution to a problem in the moment.