Problem Solving

Problem Solving is a drain on your time.

So here, we look at ways of minimising the time you spend on it. Because if you get your head around this topic, Problem Solving becomes a non-event.

Here are simple tools and skills to minimise the impact of problems! It’s about taking an objective view on the way you manage and run your business or organisation. This is a winnable issue for everyone, within or outside work.

“Think as you work, for in the final analysis, your worth to your company comes not only in solving problems, but also in anticipating them.”

Harold Wallace Ross

Top Ten Things About Problem Solving

Problem Solving is easy – as long as you stand in the right place to look at problems, be honest about them – and get creative!

The best at Problem Solving

  1. Have No Problems!
    Because they have found the way to make sure their time isn’t wasted with problems.
  2. Are Sensitive
    …and have an eye; an ear; a nose or whatever, for sniffing out problems, sometimes from a different room, even a different City!
  3. Take Responsibility
    They have no truck with blaming others (or even the weather!), for their problems. The buck stops with them – it’s their job.
  4. Find the Source
    As Albert Einstein said:-

    “The significant problems we face today, cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

    Those great at Problem Solving look deeper. The symptom of the problem is not it’s source – it lies below somewhere.
  5. Work with Others
    For information, for possibilities, for their solutions. This is far more likely to resolve problems – and provides a huge opportunity to build skills and relationships.
  6. Are Creative
    The best problem solvers look way outside their box. They have an innate ability to seek broader solutions, built on their awareness of the possibilities and their experience.
  7. Lose Their Ego!
    By being able to put aside their beliefs; their preferences; their flaws even, great problem solvers are able to come up with radical, unexpected and thoroughly brilliant solutions.
  8. Create Opportunities
    Through finding problems, the best problems solvers relish the chance to find solutions and challenge their own and others intellect into the mix. Problems are interesting!
  9. Keep Perspective
    Because problems can cause panic in the uninitiated. Experts keep their eye on the big ball and spend time on problems relative to their importance – and more often than not, it’s only Small Stuff.
  10. Prioritise Well
    When is a problem not really a problem – when it’s a speck of dust on the surface of a shiny floor. It isn’t going to ruin the dance. Sure, the band not turning up will ! Great problem solvers know what really matters (Hint – it’s not the speck of dust – unless of course, you’re the dust monitor!).

Ten Ways to be Better at Problem Solving

  1. Feel the Frustration
    By understanding that frustration with something is a good indicator, you will spot problems easily.
  2. Watch the Time
    Regularly check-out if anything is taking up too much of your time (as Michael Gerber in “The E-Myth Revisited” says, “In the business, not on the business”). This is an indication of a problem.
  3. Realise it’s You
    The problem is yours, as is the solution. Whilst you can work with others (see below), it won’t go away from ‘yours’. Blame no-one else – just solve it!
  4. More Sensory Organs
    Building excellent relationships with others will make them more open – they will tell you stuff. Then you can work on it in advance of it escalating. All your people are saying things all the time – have them on your side.
  5. Prevaricate Ye Not!
    If you find a problem, solve it quickly and solve it once and for all – in fact, make this your guiding statement here. Seek to solve problems once and only once!
  6. Work Together
    Problem Solving is about a co-ordinated effort for the best once and for all solution. So put heads together. Find the real reasons. Let others be open about their ideas and value them – every one! Build relationships together; build success together!
  7. Get to the Bottom
    Back to our buddy Einstein. The solution is not to paper over the cracks to make it go away for a bit. It’s about the real true reason. Want an example? OK – you can’t get staff, so you put the pay rates up. Solved? No? Funny that! The questions need to be:-Why do you have a recruitment problem?
    Why do you need more staff anyway?
    Why are people leaving in the first place?
    Why are you not being truthful about in your workplace?
    That’s more like where your problem is – maybe. If you want solutions that last, be tough, be…HONEST.
  8. Test Yourself
    Find out what problems you are responsible for – this is a two-way street, you know. How to find out? Ask. It’s as easy as that.
  9. Celebrate Successes
    Have some fun as things get better. Have a party, create some prizes. Chill out. It all helps to build the team around you and the business or organisation to suddenly flower.
  10. Don’t Stop There
    Look for positive problems – that is, look for things you can do much, much better, once you’ve got stability and less fire-fighting. Make Problem Solving an upward spiral of growth. Wow, or what!

5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!

  • Notice what wastes your time. Find twenty things this week that take you from your most value-creating path.
  • See problems at the level they are. If you find a problem, find out why it is a problem. Ask yourself why that problem exists, time after time. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Five times usually does it.
  • Find out what things you are responsible for that wastes the time of others. Bottom line question – what is the value here?
  • Get other involved. In ways that are not intimidating, get talking, get post-it noting, be creative about how you can get to the ideas around problem causes and ‘Solve-it Once’ solutions. If it’s a quick win – JDI (Just Do it!).
  • Check out things going well and look for the next level. Note, only do this if you are on top of bigger problems.

Read some good books, like…

“101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques: The Handbook of New Ideas for Business” – James M. Higgins
“Real Problem Solving – How to Turn Obstacles into Solutions” – Karen Smart
“The Thinker’s Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving” – Morgan Jones..and two great books by the maestro!

“Six Thinking Hats” – Edward de Bono
“Edward de Bono’s Thinking Course” – Edward de Bono