How to be a great problem solver!

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Problem-solving skills are essential in all walks of life. Sometimes it’s only an actual problem that causes you to take a long hard look at the business!

Problem-solving skills help you solve issues quickly and effectively, and it’s a highly desirable skill in an employee. To panic, or not to panic…that is the question! It’s more than identifying the problem, it’s also about making decisions that will solve the problem, and then both implementing and communicating.

It’s even worth talking to some of your team, and to consider what you would need to do if certain events actually happened…a high level and brain stormed disaster recovery plan!

There are a number of key skills to problem solving.
Analysing the contributing factors…to solve a problem, you need to work out what caused it. This requires you to gather and evaluate data, isolate possible contributing circumstances, and pinpoint what needs to be addressed for a resolution. This will require, data gathering and fact finding…speaking with key people.

Once you’ve determined the cause, brainstorm possible solutions. Ideally this should be done as a group to get different perspectives. There will often be options, and these may not materialise without a group discussion. It will also avoid overlooking other ideas that may help in formalizing the final plan…you will need to think creatively and perhaps run forecasts on the possible options.

With a number of possible solutions, you will need to evaluate. This again will need key stakeholders, as a number of points will need considering…possible costs, resources needed, issues around implementation.
With a final decision made, the agreed plan will need clear communication…assisted with designated people to ensure full buy in and to project plan and manage. Measurement and benchmark of the success should be considered where necessary…how successful is the roll out? Are costs and time on plan? Further data analysis, through follow up, and possibly surveys or customer/staff feedback can help.

While much of the above is at macro level, the steps apply at each level and stage…even when making relatively simple fixes to problems, your own thinking should include the same chain.
Of course, having a robust set of contingency plans always helps as well!

“There is no problem that you cannot solve if your focus is on solutions.”
Nitin Namdeo