Problem-Solving Strategies

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FountainBlue’s August 19 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Problem-Solving Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

This month’s panelists spoke eloquently and passionately about the need to solve problems, and the opportunities which arise from solving problems well. They agreed that leaders need to be clear, firm, fair and consistent in communicating, in order to empower everyone to engage and participate in the problem-solving process. Collaboration is key in building team synergy, in securing a wide range of input and perspective, for  leveraging relevant experience and expertise.

There was much emphasis on the importance of having a clear, succinct, direct, metrics-based problem statement, one which is flexible enough to evolve as the program morphs. There were also recommendations for leveraging tools to facilitate collaboration tools like white-boarding, especially when staff members span the globe.

Our panelists also noted that there are also times when people need to meet face-to-face. For example, it’s important to meet in-person when you’re dealing with people issues, when you need to physically interact with a product, when you’re building relationships. 

Below is a summary of best practices for problem-solving:

  • Include a wide range of perspectives when working on a problem.
  • Simplify the problem, and even deconstruct it if appropriate so that you better understand it.
  • Invite wild ideas so you can fully brainstorm options, but also consider only the ideas which are practical.
  • Consider the cost/value of potential solutions, so that you implement solutions which are practical, sustainable, reasonable, and useful.
  • Focus on addressing the most impactful, highest-priority problems first. 
  • People-problems are generally more complex, less straight-forward than engineering or process problems. With process and engineering problems, there can be clearly defined standards and protocols.

It’s not easy to solve complex problems, but listening well and deeply is a key step forward for doing this well.


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