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Problem solving is the greatest enabler for growth and opportunity. These novel strategies will help you tackle whatever challenges 2018 brings your way -- and dominate your industry:
Why Great Problem Solving Matters
Business leaders understand the pitfalls of ignoring problems. Ineffective problem solving, however, can be equally detrimental to an organization, if not more so. Throwing resources at a problem with no true strategy wastes time, squanders money and can even make the problem worse.
How does poor problem solving exacerbate an issue?
When the wrong solution is implemented, people simply stop trying to solve the root problem. They may say, "that's good enough," and move on to something else, without ever solving that core issue. Consistently settling for "good enough" creates a false sense that some problems can't be solved but instead, they must simply be worked around, lived with or ignored altogether.
Solve Problems Like a Pro
Great problem-solvers aren't necessarily smarter than anyone else; they simply tackle issues with a strategy, look for facts and work through the problem until a real resolution is uncovered. According to author and serial entrepreneur Nat Greene, great problem-solvers exhibit these behaviors:
- clearly defining the problem they are solving
- never guessing
- embracing what they don't know
- believing in simple solutions
- making decisions based on facts
- staying on target when solving a problem
There isn't anything "secret" about these behaviors. When you look at the list, it makes sense that a systematic approach based on facts and simplicity leads to answers. But these aren't the only creative strategies for solving problems.
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Here are three more innovative approaches you should consider:
1. Imagine the Worst That Could Happen
One unique method for solving problems is author Josh Kaufman's, "inversion technique." The basic premise is this: You take the problem you are facing and ask yourself what it would look like from the opposite perspective. Let's say you want to improve your leadership skills. Instead of asking, "How can we foster more innovation in our workforce" ask yourself, "What could we do to create less innovation?"
By listing the opposite of what you want to happen, you are able to identify critical elements of the problem that aren't necessarily obvious. Inverting a problem provides you with an entirely new perspective on the issue and forces you to identify and work through hidden barriers that could derail your progress.
2. Redefine the Problem
When faced with a problem you just can't solve, you may get locked into a frustrating holding pattern. You keep thinking of new ways to solve the problem, but the same ideas keep coming up. Cognitive psychologist and author Art Markman advises people they can "unlock" new solutions by changing the description of the problem.
Redefining the problem, he says, tells your mind that you are in a different situation entirely and that new situation unlocks a whole new set of memories and ideas in your mind.
Want to give it a try? Here are two methods to use:
- Ask yourself what type of problem you really have on your hands. For example, James Dyson was looking for a way to make a filter that would prevent vacuum bags from getting clogged. He realized that the problem wasn't actually about the filter, but about separating dirt from the air. And this unlocked a whole new world of possibilities that led to Dyson bagless vacuums.
- Ask who else has faced a similar problem. While perfecting his vacuum system, Dyson looked at other industries to see who solved similar problems. He found that sawmills take sawdust out of the air effectively with industrial cyclones. Thus, he used that technology to create filter-free vacuums.
3. Bring More Heads Together
Sometimes, an outside perspective can be extremely valuable in solving problems. For example, if your organization consistently experiences high turnover, struggles with productivity or isn't attracting the right types of applicants, a fresh perspective may be all it takes to generate real resolutions.
Partnering with an expert recruiting firm allows you to tap into novel approaches to workforce and hiring challenges. Working together, you and your staffing partner can identify the root of your issues and design more effective solutions.