Problem solving, especially in business, is a complicated science.
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“Problems and conflicts occur in all groups and teams in the workplace, but if leaders involve everyone in working through, they will foster cohesion, engagement, and buy in.
Everybody wins.” Although problem solving techniques vary procedurally, experts agree that the first step in solving a problem is defining the problem.
The three creative techniques we use to help our clients ‘identify the right problem to be solved’ are questioning assumptions, 20 questions, and problem redefinition.
A good example of this was a new product challenge from a client to help them ‘invent a new iron.
Mac Leod thinks of problem solving as an integral practice of successful organizations.
“Problem solving is a collaborative process — all voices are heard and connected, and resolution is reached by the group,” she says.
Decision making is choosing one of multiple proposed solutions — therefore, this process also includes defining and evaluating all potential options.
Decision making is often one step of the problem solving process, but the two concepts are distinct.
Without a clear articulation of the problem at stake, it is impossible to analyze all the key factors and actors, generate possible solutions, and then evaluate them to pick the best option. Elliott Jaffa is a behavioral and management psychologist with over 25 years of problem solving training and management experience.
“Start with defining the problem you want to solve,” he says, “And then define where you want to be, what you want to come away with.” He emphasizes these are the first steps in creating an actionable, clear solution.