The 8 Must-Know Problem Solving Tips
Every manager is paid to solve problems–not bring more problems—to management. Here are some quick tips that can help you be a better problem solver.
Challenge conventional wisdom. Look for a fresh approach, a new angle, or a unique perspective. Do not settle for the way it has always been done. If the traditional solution was really good, the problem should have gone away.
Ask an outsider. Get someone who is not intimately involved to offer his or her input. Ask a friend in another department, location, or even a customer to help you clearly define and assess the problem.
Look for the unexpected. Force yourself to look beyond the average, the expected, and the typical. Inject creativity into your solutions process.
Two or more heads are better than one. Even when you are an expert in the problem area, it can be very helpful to involve others in the process.
Follow your intuition. Intuition is perfectly acceptable in problem solving given you: (1) clearly understand the problem and the potential cause, (2) have been in a similar situation before, and (3) possess data, information, and research that support your intuitive solution. If the above three criteria are met, then go with your intuition.
Take a break. When stuck, get way from the problem, take a walk, forget about it, and come back later. A fresh mind is always advantageous to a tired, frustrated mind.
No decision is a decision. Sometimes the best solution is to do nothing. As a trench leader, we are prone to want to do something, to take action. Realize that no action is sometimes the right thing to do.
Attack the problem, but never the people. This one is crucial. It’s the problem that needs fixing, not the people. Indeed your team may need new skills, knowledge, or information to effectively implement your solution. But always remember that as a trench leader, you must attack the problem and not your people.
Integrate these problem-solving tips into your daily work style, and you will be a more productive and effective manager.