Streetwise — Problem Solving

December 6, 2019

From our friends at Eure Consulting:

 

This is the nineteenth installment in our 25 week series exploring the 25 competencies, or soft skills, that our assessments measure. Each week we’ll give you the definition of that competency, explain its value, and give you tips to help you develop it. This week: Problem Solving.

Problem Solving is defining, analyzing and diagnosing key components of a problem to formulate a solution. A great problem solver takes the time to deeply analyze the issue at hand to uncover the root cause and then creates a plan to solve it. They don’t just cure the symptoms of an issue, they take out the entire sickness.

Those who are good at Problem Solving are able to take apart an issue and examine each component before deciding where to start their efforts. They look into each aspect of the problem and decide which areas are truly to blame and start solving those first. They also don’t assume what the best response will be until they’ve completed this analysis. Great problem solvers know that you can’t use a one size fits all approach, so they have many different problem solving tools in their toolbox. They reserve judgment about which tool to use until they fully understand the issue at hand.

Problem Solving is an incredibly useful skill in any role. Everyone faces problems in their day-to-day and being able to effectively and efficiently troubleshoot those issues can make your life much easier. Those who are good at Problem Solving are also better able to anticipate what issues might arise and plan ahead for them, thus minimizing their impact. This foresight can sometimes avoid those complications altogether. It comes from their ability to truly understand problems and how they arise.

Some times our clients know the real issue and will not or don’t know how to solve it. Most of the time, though, they just haven’t really identified the problem.

For instance, let’s say that sales at your organization are down, the quick solution is to cut prices – have a sale. This solves the symptom of fewer sales, but what it the real issue?

  • Sales person performance or accountability?
  • Sales compensation structure?
  • Sales hiring and training?
  • Product design or quality?
  • Competitors?
  • Poor customer service or delivery?

Having a sale solves the short term problem of needing more revenue, but doesn’t help the long term profitability of your company. Treating and addressing the symptoms are easy as they are right in front of you. The harder task is to stop and identify the root issue. The next time you face a problem, stop and dig in to the true cause of the issue. Look past the symptoms to discover the stem of the problem and then solve that. Successful, sustainable enterprises have the ability to identify and correct the root cause.