Life, Leadership and Business

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Identify and Solve Problems

Personal & Leadership Skill: Ability to Identify and Solve Problems

No other skill will keep you relevant and in demand like the ability to solve problems. The best problem solvers in the work place are often the highest paid in the company. This is a skill that everyone should have but has become rare and extremely valuable.

These days, it seems problems are ignored. Whether people are avoiding potential conflict or the effort, problems are left to linger. Any experienced gardener will tell you, weeds don’t vanish because you ignore them - they grow larger, their roots growing deeper!
Problem solving is a basic process flow or sequence of steps to be followed and generic options abound on the internet. It’s like a cooking recipe or planting a flower: there are steps to follow!

Here are 5 basics steps that should be included in your problem solving strategy:
1.      Collect Information

The skill of collecting, organising, analysing and critically evaluating comes in handy when dealing with problems.

Collect all the information around the problem. The person with the most amount of information is more likely to
easily identify the cause of the problem and increases the possibility of “stumbling” onto the solution.

In any event, collecting as much information on the problem is essential to identifying the root cause.

2.      Identify the Root

Once you have collected all the possible information surrounding the problem, an analysis should reveal the root cause. Don’t settle for the obvious or apparent cause. Delve deeper, constantly asking “why?” The closer you get to the root cause of the problem the more effective your solutions will be.

Einstein said that if he had 60 minutes to solve a problem, he would define it for fifty five minutes. Then implement the solution during the remaining five minutes.

3.      List Solutions

Brainstorm solutions. Come up with as many as possible. Set a target at the start of your brainstorm session. For example, state that you want twenty possible solutions. Then, don’t settle for fifteen or eighteen solutions. List exactly twenty options.

Defining the initial options will be easy.

The further you move down the list, the more difficult it will be to come up with solutions. This exercise allows the subconscious mind to get involved in the solutions process. Often the twentieth option is the most sustainable solution to the problem.

4.      Implement an Option

Implementing the option requires you to select the best solution from your list. Then set a schedule for implementation, detailing what step should be taken and when. Also define the standard to which the solution must be implemented. Poor or bad implementation may cause a whole set of new problems.

If you have a group solving the problem, make sure each step in the process has a specific person identified as the responsible individual.

5.      Evaluate the Solution

As the solution is implemented, evaluate the outcome or result. Is the solution resolving the problem or making it worse? Constant evaluation will allow quick corrective actions to be taken if something goes wrong.

Problem solving, like every other skill, requires practice and development. Failure is inevitable, and is probably what makes this skill so unappealing. Failure is not the opposite of success; it is in fact a part of the success process. Complacency is the opposite of success.

With that said the best solution to any problem starts with “action.” Take time and care to develop this skill. The ability to solve problems often separates those that follow from those that lead.

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