PROBLEM SOLVING – What is the best way?
December 15, 2017 - December 15, 2017
“Completion versus Perfection”. This one-liner is so relevant to problem solving, as well as many other factors. The three words originate from my mentor in the USA.
When there is a problem to be solved, it is amazing how, whether it is an individual or a team of people working on it, the goal always seems to be “let’s aim for the perfect solution”. There’s nothing wrong with this as a goal, but usually there are time constraints involved. So, let’s shift the emphasis to “let’s work out how we solve this problem, and complete it in the time span that we have”.
What are the benefits of adopting this approach? First of all, it focuses everyone’s mind on time, as well as solution. If it is a team trying to solve the problem, then the team leader will not allow those individuals, who love the sound of their own voice, from talking for too long, and not moving the team forward to resolving the problem.
It is my belief that young people are much better than adults at following this approach, and adults can learn a lot from the way that young people tackle problems. A good starting point is for companies to give their staff less time to come up with solutions. So, challenge them by giving them so many hours to complete complex tasks, as opposed to days or even weeks.
I would advocate that as soon as you are faced with a problem, albeit one that is self inflicted or given to you by someone else, then you write the problem down on a piece of paper, or into Word on your computer. Keep looking at your wording, making changes as you deem necessary, until you are clear in your mind that you know precisely what the problem is.
You now have something that you can keep coming back to, with a view to finding a solution to this problem. By doing this, it will keep you on track to solving the actual problem.
I remember being in a school recently, coaching 17-year-olds on a business problem. After they had presented their solution, and I was capturing what they had learned and benefited from, it was amazing how many quoted, “referring back to the problem”, “working under pressure” and “working to deadlines”.
It was also most reassuring to hear that they had found great benefit from working in teams, and actually listening to other people’s ideas that they had proposed. This just reinforced the acronym TEAM, viz. Together Everyone Achieves More. Also, “there is no I in TEAM”. What was most interesting when talking to them was the fact that they had found that trying to resolve their part of the overall problem on their own was very limiting, until they spoke to others.
Instead of just thinking about problem solving at work, there are always issues to be resolved at home, and not just with the children but also between parents, or young couples. So, taking on board some of the things that have been said already in this article, why not try a new approach? Instead of dealing with the problem immediately when emotions are likely to be running high, simply state, “We’ll talk about it later”. This will then allow time to write down the problem, discuss it with someone, and then tackle the problem with a fresh mind. Worth a try?