As a university student, you are hyper-focused on your curriculum, assignments, attendance, and making it through your college life. Academic skills and knowledge are very important for your career, but they might not be enough to impress your next employer. Businesses are seeking professionals with good industry comprehension and all-around skills.

Did you know that the word problem originated from the Greek word 'problēma', which means put forth or throw?

Life skills are something that goes beyond bookish knowledge. People are born with a knack for it and develop them further through cognition. Problem-solving skills are one of many such skills. Your ability to solve problems can make you stand out from your peers. There are several techniques used to reach the solution.

In this blog, we will go over one of such techniques. We’ll define the Present State (PS) and the Desired State (DS) used by several professionals for strategic point planning. You will learn more about this problem-solving technique with examples. Read forth to get in-depth knowledge on this topic.

what is the purpose of the PS DS technique

What are the Present State and Desired State?

How often have you come across the saying "live in the moment?" or the solution to your problem is right in front of you. People say this and many other things, but in this problem-solving technique, we are starting from the end with our final goal. You need to define the present issues and the final solution you want to achieve.

Present State (PS) includes all the current issues you face to achieve a certain goal. It may also include the shortcomings - your inability to study due to distractions, employees' productivity in an organisation or the lack of certain resources needed to meet a certain target.

After defining the Present State (PS), next is Desired State (DS); for example, you will define all the prospects like getting good grades in a specific subject. Businesses use this technique to achieve certain marketing/sales/productivity goals. In various firms, there are performance sheets containing the monthly/daily KRA of each employee.

Such document can be called the desired state, and employees work focusing on that one objective that must be achieved in the given time. It is the final goal, and it doesn't include anything beyond the present issues you include in the PS. When defining DS, avoid using vague words or phrases like most efficient, minimal, almost just as good, etc.

When you Define the Present State (PS) and the Desired State (DS), remember to differentiate both statements from one another. Making a connection between the PS and the DS is important, but you must not confuse the two. Hence, the use of concise yet to the point writing is important.

Tip: When defining the Desired State, it is advisable to visualise the goal or the final state you want to achieve as it helps make the statement more meticulous. Visualising is another important technique in problem-solving.

This technique is useful for problem-solving as it includes all the fundamental steps of tackling a problem - addressing the problem, decision making, communication, analytical skills, and critical thinking.

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How to Define the Present State (PS) and the Desired State (DS)?

Now that we know what exactly the present and desired states are, we can now move forward with implementing this technique. The key is finding the correlation between the two scenarios. Your present determination and prospect must have a common denominator to achieve. We will learn through these:

Example 1

Suppose you plan on getting good grades in your exam, and your plan goes something like this-

Present State

“I need to study harder for the upcoming exams.”

Desired State

“I want to get an acceptable score on my Sociology paper.”

There's no correlation between the PS and DS in both these statements. But, we can phrase it better and enhance the level of determination for your goals. Let's try again, Shall we?

Present State

"I want to score well in my upcoming finals, but I'm working on my sociology research paper at the same time. I have to reschedule so I can manage both simultaneously."

Desired State"

"I will score well on both my final exams and my sociology research paper."

There's a correlation between the two as your goals Define the Present State (PS) and the Desired State (DS). Your PS must have a definite scope and clearly stated goals to achieve the DS. We'll see another real-life example.

There is no use talking about a problem without mentioning the solution. Quote by Betty Williams

Example 2

For instance, you want a career in public accounting and be less stressed with your job-

Present State

I want to pursue a career in Public Accounting and make time for my interest in the arts.

Desired State

I want a job that doesn't stress me and leaves enough time for other ventures like art and music.

Here, we'll discuss the different solutions that can help achieve the desired state:

  1. General Solutions can be quitting your job or focusing on just one thing.
  2. A functional Solution can be finding a new job that meets all your requirements or taking leaves every other month to do other things.
  3. Specific Solutions Contact a recruiting agent that can help you find the right job with the right schedule. Also, you can plan your schedule to spend time on your other pursuits than work. Reach commute to and fro from work on time and spend weekends pursuing art than lazing or distressing.

 Here, a functional or circumstance specific solution can be your key to achieving the desired state. Problem-solving is more than just setting your mind on achieving something. It requires action and planning. Planning and effective execution is the key to achieving the finest solution.

6 steps of problem solving

In conclusion, Defining the Present State (PS) and the Desired State (DS) examples are useful because…

When finding the solution for a problem, it is important to define the solution you want to achieve. After that, you can modify the specific details and get an action plan to start your pursuit. Problem-solving is focused on trial and error of the various solutions, so defining all the possible solutions is the first step.

Often the solution is far-fetched and seems more hypothetical than practical - like the employment example, we saw in the section above - to execute. You can't just leave your job abruptly. Several factors are involved in such solutions - finding a new job, expenses, work prospects etc.

Like we have general and specific goals, problems are also categorised as ill-defined and well-defined. Well-defining problems are a firm's management issues that have a clear solution. An ill-defined problem is ending war or attaining world peace as the solutions aren't specific but hypothetical.

By defining the Present State (PS) and the Desired State (DS), you address the present circumstances and the future prospect. This technique is focused on beginning from the end. But, remember, there are only two rules for defining the PS and DS. All the concerns in PS should be addressed, and the DS should not contain any requirements other than the ones listed in PS.

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