By Wayne Stottler, Kepner-Tregoe For over 60 years, Kepner-Tregoe has been helping companies across industries and geographies develop and mature their problem-solving capabilities through KT’s industry leading approach to training and the implementation of best practice processes.
Considering that problem solving is a part of almost every person’s daily life (both at home and in the workplace), it is surprising how often we are asked to explain what problem solving is and why it is important. It is the methods we use to understand what is happening in our environment, identify things we want to change and then figure out the things that need to be done to create the desired outcome.
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Whether you are a Cisco Networking Academy student, a parent, an intern, a rookie, or the president of a large corporation you are going to have to face problems at some point. Well, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that a systematic approach built on well-defined steps can help you find solutions that yield real, sustainable, and scale-able solutions – whatever the problem. It means taking the time to thoroughly review the situation - separating the symptoms from the cause.
Problem solving is the source of all new inventions, social and cultural evolution, and the basis for market based economies.
It is the basis for continuous improvement, communication and learning.Making your diagnosis is about understanding what hurts and why. Plan and Implement Your Solution Give this part plenty of thought too. Evaluating the success of your solution is a vital – and often neglected step – because it shows you clearly whether your solution is the correct one, or whether you need to go back to step one and start over.This takes time and might mean doing a bit of research to reveal the underlying issues behind the problem. Determine the Root Causes Once you have identified what your problem is, you need to figure out why it is. This might mean looking for solutions in unusual places or from unusual sources – talking to a different set of colleagues, keeping an open mind, or being receptive to the interchange of ideas or perspectives. Build a really tight plan to execute your solution. Because a key part of problem-solving effectively is about being prepared to get it wrong – and to learn from your mistakes.The shift in emphasis from simple toy problems to complex, more real-life oriented problems has been accompanied by discussions about the best ways to assess the process of solving complex problems. doi: 10.1002/acp.2350090605 Pub Med Abstract | Cross Ref Full Text | Google Scholar Schweizer, F., Wüstenberg, S., and Greiff, S. Validity of the Micro DYN approach: complex problem solving predicts school grades beyond working memory capacity. Psychometric issues such as reliable assessments and addressing correlations with other instruments have been in the foreground of these discussions and have left the content validity of complex problem solving in the background. Problem solving skills and the problem-solving process are a critical part of daily life both as individuals and organizations.Developing and refining these skills through training, practice and learning can provide the ability to solve problems more effectively and over time address problems with a greater degree of complexity and difficulty.There is a complex and ever-changing web of relationships that exist and as a result, the actions of one person will often have either a direct impact on others or an indirect impact by changing the environment dynamics.These interdependencies enable humans to work together to solve more complex problems but they also create a force that requires everyone to continuously improve performance to adapt to improvements by others.Problem-solving can be applied to the anticipated future events and used to enable action in the present to influence the likelihood of the event occurring and/or alter the impact if the event does occur.Improving performance: Individuals and organizations do not exist in isolation in the environment.