Problem? Solved.

Published Wednesday, June 09, 2010 10:21 AM

By Candie Harris

Problems and workplaces go hand-in-hand. No matter the size of the company, the scope of the dilemma, problems are as inescapable in the workplace as well, work. While problems cropping up may be beyond your control, problem-solving is firmly within your grasp.

Albert Einstein's theory of relativity may be difficult to fully comprehend, but his problem-solving advice is easy to follow.  "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Now that's genius!

So switch off problem solving auto-pilot and stop blindly trying to move through or around the problem. Take time to analyze how and why the problem popped up and prepare to address it step-by-step. Appreciate that the problem presents the opportunity to become an effective problem solver.

First step, examine the anatomy of a problem. In the workplace, common causes are co-worker conflict, customer dissatisfaction, process dysfunction and mechanical failure. Could it be a combination of factors?

Once you have clearly identified the root problem(s), it's time for action. Positive action. Do not fall into the trap of hoping a problem will go away, looking for someone (else) to blame or rushing to come up with the right solution immediately. This is key. Solutions do not belong at the beginning of the problem solving process but at the end.  So take time to get it right.

Problem Solving 101

Ready to tackle your problem? Make sure you and other participants have allowed emotions to cool and are ready to work dispassionately.

Step back and try to see the bigger picture. Make a candid assessment of what if any role you may have played in creating the problem.

Pinpoint the issues at stake. Field and clarify different perspectives from all actors. The goal is to find a solution that satisfies everyone's interests.

Activate your listening skills. Engage in active listening, offering physical and/or verbal signs that you understand and appreciate what people are saying to you. Put aside any perceived or real differences and listen with the goal of truly understanding.

Evaluate and select the best solution.  Collaborate with your problem solving peers to ensure the solution is the best possible. Is there one best solution, or can several options be "bundled" together to form a solution meeting a broad number of interests?

Brainstorm solutions. Employ creativity (and patience) in finding the point (or points) of mutual interest. Carefully assess whether a solution really meets the need of your interests.  Too often, people become attached to one particular solution, at the expense of their interests.

At Esselte manufacturing facilities around the globe, we often use "Try-Storming" to identify options. Try-Storming is brainstorming with a twist; ideas are quickly generated and tested rather than slowly developed and analyzed. The process has three basic principles: 1) It is not important to create perfect solutions; 2) Be action-oriented and 3) Keep solutions simple.

Delineate the solution in a written agreement. Memory can be faulty. Outlining the solution in written form also helps participants to think through all the implications. And the document serves as a touchstone for review on an ongoing basis to ensure needs are still being met.

Effective problem solving is a skill that is required on an on-going basis both at work and in life. Becoming disciplined about your problem-solving process will yield positive solutions and lessen your stress and unease about tackling workplace troubles. So the next time a problem arises at work, take a deep breath and know that you are armed with the tools to tackle it head on. 

Problem? Solved.


| More


# Vivian said on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 6:45 PM

I  wanted to make a small rrmeak to express gratitude to you for those great facts you are writing on this website. My long internet search has finally been compensated with brilliant facts and techniques to write about with my friends and family. I would claim that most of us readers actually are quite endowed to dwell in a really good site with  many lovely professionals with very beneficial advice. I feel very grateful to have come across your entire weblog and look forward to so many more cool moments reading here. Thanks once more for everything.

# Dawson said on Saturday, March 17, 2012 7:39 AM

අය ය  ඕක අදද දන න ? හ මද ම face book වල වයර  ප ටල ල න ..සමහර ව ල වට photo comments ද ම මම ව ල ව ව ද යට ව ට නව  psoted by deeps at tommorow 5.25pm kiayala

# Motivation to lose weight said on Sunday, April 08, 2012 4:49 AM

PKMbqo A big thank you for your blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

# cheap oem software said on Thursday, May 03, 2012 2:04 AM

ghndUh Im thankful for the article.Really thank you! Want more.

About Beyond Folders™

Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

Join the Beyond Folders™ Community of readers passionate about time management, productivity, communication and workspace organization.

Read BFC News

Quick Subscribe to BFC News

Follow Beyond Folders™