It is an undesired still an undeniable fact that there many problems that we all continuously face within our work and life. Sometimes, it seems we never have enough time to solve each one without dealing with some adversity along the way. The problems in our lives keep mounting so fast that we often look for shortcuts to alleviate the tension points temporarily – so we can move onto the next challenge. But, this process doesn’t help us solve the core of each problem that we are dealing with; thus, we continuously get into a never-ending cycle that doesn’t lead us to any real resolutions. Sound familiar? However, speaking about the leaders like us, problem-solving is considered as the critical essence of what we exist to do.
As leaders, one of our primary goals is to effectively work through the problem and learn along the way. I believe a solution-oriented method provides us with enough courage to tackle them head-on before circumstances force our hand. We must remain resilient in our quest to create and sustain momentum for the organization and the people we serve. But the reality of today’s workplaces is that we must often deal with people that complicate matters with their corporate politicking, self-promotion, power-plays and ploys, and envy. Still, to become a great leader, we must overcome these obstacles and rise as an efficient problem solver.
Great leaders are patient enough in work and life to step back and see the problem at-hand through broadened observation; a 360-degree vision. They see around, beneath, and beyond the problem itself. They see well-beyond the obvious. In today’s world, most effective leaders approach problems through a lens of opportunity to create a significant impact on their teams and families both. As a leader, we should never view a problem as a distraction, but rather as a strategic enabler for continuous improvement and opportunities previously unseen.
However, there is a common misconception that leaders merely manage creative efforts; rather than become active participants in the process. But the reality is that leaders, it seems, play a crucial role in the creative problem-solving process. The critical leadership skills that they possess can significantly affect the quality of the innovative outcome. Consequently, as organizations increasingly depend on new products and processes to fuel their future, creative problem-solving stands as a critical leadership skill. It helps leaders have a clear idea about the problem to be solved, which makes it easier for team members to produce potential solutions, and a leader can effectively evaluate the quality of those solutions.
To evaluate proposed solutions usually ignites leaders’ creative thinking, and they begin to generate additional ideas, discover alternative perspectives, and redefine the original problem. When they share their alternatives, insights, and additions, it stimulates team members to continue with solution generation and development.
In this blog, I would like to discuss an interesting problem-solving method that has proven to be immensely helpful in my leadership journey.
It’s called I BEET! I like to think of it as I BEET you can solve this problem. I BEET we can figure this out together. I BEET we will have victory over the issue at hand.
What are things like when they are the way we want them to be? If scenarios would have turned out the way we want them to happen, how will that look like? If someone was doing what we want him or her to do, what would he/she be doing?
We need to ask ourselves these questions to find the standard against which we’re going to measure the problematic situation we are in. The next important question that needs to be in your mind is how much variation from the norm is tolerable? There lies the problem!
You might have very little tolerance from the practical perspective, but there can be more tolerance if you think from a behavioral perspective. You might conclude that it’s fine with me when this person doesn’t do it exactly as I say because I’m okay with him/her taking some liberty with this. However, in case of some other issue, you may need 100% compliance. So, it depends on the problem that you are facing at the moment.
It’s also important to ask a lot of other important questions like what caused this problem? Who is responsible for this problem? When did this problem first emerge? Why did this happen? Where does it hurt us the most? How do we go about resolving this problem? And can we solve this problem for good so it will never occur again?
Having the answers to these questions is very important so that we can ensure we know the root cause of a specific problem. It will help us come up with practical solutions that people can use for a long-term benefit, rather than dealing with the same issues again and again.
Undoubtedly, there are always more solutions to any problem than the one that you might have thought first while planning to deal with it. So, it’s best to take your time and think of different alternate ideas of solving a problem and develop a list of them instead of just jumping into a conclusion instantly. If it’s a problem for your entire team, all of you need to sit together and brainstorm different ideas to solve that, and it will help ensure that you and your team can assess and decide which one will be the best for solving that specific problem.
After you are aware of some compelling ideas for solving a specific problem that your team or the organization is facing, the next step is to evaluate those alternatives relative to a target standard. You need to remain unbiased while evaluating the options and make sure you and your team are analyzing both proven and possible outcomes of that. It’s important to state the selected alternative problem-solving ideas explicitly and consider different pros and cons of all of them. It will help you identify the best solution that will have the highest impact on the problem.
If it’s a team problem, you can go for the effective 1/3 + 1 Rule to create consensus around one or the top two or three probable solutions to get everyone involved in solving that. Then you have to rank those problem-solving ideas based on efficiency, cost, long-term value, what resources you have, and if you can commit to the solution. Next, look at every one of those options carefully, and you, along with your team, will be able to decide the best solution to a problem at a particular time.
After you have identified the best ideas to solve a problem, it’s time to implement those as solutions. Implementing the solution that you have decided on can altogether help create an implementation plan. At this stage, you also need to include planning on what happens next if something goes wrong with the decided solution, and it doesn’t work out the way you thought it would. While executing an effective plan to solve any problem, you need to ensure that your team knows and understands their role to help make the solution work and that there are timelines for execution.
From your implementation plan, make sure you track and measure the results so you can answer questions such as: Did it work? Was this the right solution? Did we learn something here in the implementation that we could apply to other potential problems? It’s essential to have a system in place to track whether or not the solutions has corrected the problem. It will help you remain satisfied with the effectiveness of the solution that you have crafted to deal with any problem.
These five simple and effective steps will help you become an ideal leader in your organization, who is an efficient problem solver too.
Do you want to be a part of an organization that has the support of such excellent problem-solving leaders?
Join us today! At Etech, as we practice this process consistently to develop the best problem-solving skills, these steps have become so natural to us that we not only use them in the workplace but also end up making the best use of them in our daily lives without even noticing!