Harnessing Problem Solving Skills

Harnessing Problem Solving Skills

At times, workplace can be a maze. You are not sure whether what you are doing is politically correct or not, and many times you make mistakes. One of the areas where the top management scores the least marks is addressing problems. There is a set mindset that we have when it comes to addressing problems, which tends to reduce the productivity among other things. It also lowers the morale of the employees who are working around to finish the tasks.

We often don’t think about the root cause of the problem or, rather we think of the problem but don’t broaden our horizons to consider a solution for the problem.  Some years ago, Dr. Lawrence Peter wrote a book called The Peter Principle. It was an amusing book with a central thesis that cut too close to home. He wrote that in every organization, people continue to be promoted until they reach a level where they are no longer competent to solve the problems at that level. This is where they stop and stay for the rest of their careers.

Furthermore, he pointed out that for this reason, every organization is eventually staffed by people who have reached their level of incompetence. This is especially true in government, and it is the primary reason why government is so time- and cost-inefficient, making it difficult to get anything done at all. This is usually true in any large bureaucracy.

In your own personal life, you continue to rise in your company and your profession in direct proportion to your ability to solve the problems and make the necessary decisions at each level of your career. The good news is that when you think about solutions most of the time, you train your brain to be intensively solution oriented.

To master the discipline of problem solving, you need to develop a formula or method that enables you to deal effectively with almost any problem you face in the course of your career or personal life. Fortunately, there is a proven formula for problem solving and decision making.

In solving a problem, you need to define the problem clearly. People can become upset about a problem in an organization, but every one of them has a different idea or definition of the exact nature of the problem they’re facing. Your job is to achieve clarity and to get everyone to agree on the definition of the problem before you move on to the business of solving it.

Secondly, you need to identify if the situation on ground is really a problem. Remember, there are some things that you can do nothing about. They’re not problems; they are merely facts of life. If interest rates rise or the subprime mortgage market collapses, this is not a problem. It is not something that is amenable to a solution. Instead, it is something that must be worked around and dealt with.Also, very often what appears to be a problem or a setback is actually an opportunity in disguise.

Beware of any problem for which there is only one definition. The more ways you can define a problem, the more likely it is that you will find the best solution.When we work with corporations in which sales are below a desired level, we force them to ask twenty-one questions, all of which are different ways of restating the problem. Each restatement of the problem, if accepted as the correct definition, leads to a different solution and often to a completely different direction for the organization.

You should also determine how the problem occurred. Seek to understand the causes of the problem so you can ensure that it doesn’t happen again In your life or business, if a problem recurs repeatedly, it is a sign that your business is poorly organized or out of control in that area.

It is also imperative for you to outline all the possible solutions. The more possible solutions you develop, the more likely you will come up with the right one The quality of the solution seems to be in direct proportion to the quantity of solutions considered in problem solving Beware a problem for which there is only one solution .

Identify the best solution for the problem at that particular time. Sometimes, any solution is better than no solution An average solution vigorously executed is often superior to an excellent solution that cannot be implemented because of its complexity or because no one has the ability to execute it

The rule is that fully 80 percent of all problems should be dealt with immediately. Only 20 percent of problems need to be put off to a later time If you must put off a problem, set a specific deadline for making a decision on that problem, and then make your decision at that deadline with whatever information you have at that time

Select a solution and then decide on a course of action Always ask, “What is our next action? What are we going to do now?

Assign responsibility to people who would carry out the different task. It is quite common for a group to meet to solve a problem and to agree on a solution, but when the group meets again two weeks later, it turns out that nothing has happened. Why? No one was made specifically responsible for carrying out the decision.

Determine to set a measure for the decision. What are you trying to accomplish with this decision, and how will you measure results? How will you know that it worked? The more accurately you can determine the result that you want to achieve by the solution, the more likely it is that you will achieve it.

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