Problem Solving Overview

A variety of problems regularly arise in everyday working environments, and hence a variety of solutions are required to solve them. These solutions require a great deal of thought, time, investigation and resources, meaning getting problem solving right can have very important consequences for your business.

Solving problems is a key leadership skill, essential to the becoming a successful manager and improving business performance. Quickly weighing up available options and taking decisive actions to select the best solution to a problem is integral to efficient performance, while misdiagnosing the initial problem or selecting an inappropriate solution can cause serious issues.

It is important to always get the problem solving process right, avoiding taking too little time to define the problem or generate potential solutions.

However, solving problems is not as simple as following the recommended steps, as many other factors can come into play. An individual’s personality, cognitive biases, habits, fear of going against the rhetoric and underlying assumptions can all affect the decision making process. Being aware of the factors that can affect problem solving is essential in reaching the best solution.

A wide range of techniques for problem solving exist, and each can be appropriate given the situation and individual involved. Examples include, 6 thinking hats, 4D vision, the scientific method, logic, creative and ‘what if?’.

The important skills to attain are to assess the situation independently of any other factors and to know when to trust your own instincts and when to ask for a second opinion on a potential solution to a problem.