Monday, February 19, 2018

The New Book “Problem-Solving Master” Introduction Chapter 2: Problem-Solving Methodologies and Practices

Problem-solving is both art and science.

Many complex business problems today are like the gigantic puzzles with many misplaced pieces, you have to put them all in the right places to discover the real solution. Problem-solving is about understanding a problem and actually discovering or designing a solution to that problem, not just finding the band-aid approach to fix the symptom. Problem-solving has a very wide scope and takes the interdisciplinary approach which involves multifaceted disciplines such as engineering, art, principles, condition, social norms and group behavior.

Develop a systematic problem-solving framework: Due to fast-paced change, the exponential growth of information and continuous digital disruptions, the problems facing businesses also turn to be over-complex and difficult to solve. You need to have deep insight, take a holistic approach to complex problem-solving and build a comprehensive framework for both defining the right problems and solving them systematically and effectively. First, assess problems systematically: the business management should determine why problems happened, how problems escalated, and when the problems started. To frame the right problem, you need to step back, or get out of the box, and understand the issues holistically via multidisciplinary lenses. Then, you should identify qualified problem-solvers with the right mindsets, differentiated capabilities, and skills for solving the right problems. Also, you should leverage the efficient tools, methods, and practices, develop the tailored methodologies and practices. It’s important to discover and design creative solutions, to push the envelope, and to go beyond what is expected; and last but not least, you need to evaluate outcomes. It is important to keep track of the outcome of problem-solving. Taking a systematic approach to measurement can avoid blind-spots in problem-solving, having the appropriate performance indicators is very important. And acting on what those indicators are telling you is vital to sustaining and improving problem-solving capability at the business level.

Handling problems at the mindset level: As Einstein wisely put: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Diagnosing the problem from the mindset level is the critical step for digging into the root causes of many problems today.  The mind interprets how a person sees the world- the perception and decides their cognitive capacity and attitude to solve the problems. To master problem-solving in the digital era, there needs to be mind shift - from static, siloed or biased mind to growth, holistic and creative mind. Because digital is all about information flow, mind flow, and idea flow. When people’s minds are far lag behind the digital era we live in, that no doubt becomes the root cause of many thorny problems facing the business and our society and stifle the collective progress we all deserve to enjoy. With increasing pace of changes and shortened knowledge life cycle, there needs to be a mind shift in order to master problem-solving and push the business and the world forward.

Holistic problem-solving: Holistic thinking is important to understand, frame, and solve today’s multilayer, interdependent, and over-complex business problems. Holistic Thinking has a correlation with systems thinking which is the thought process for seeing interrelationships rather than isolated things, from seeing patterns of change rather than static “snapshots.” We can drive mechanically thinking about a problem in normal traffic and linear logic. However, if the situation is fluid and dynamic, with a lot of inter-dependencies and uncertainty, it calls for holistic and systems thinking. A holistic perspective is a zoom out view and works well when deploying, conceiving, and redefining a problem more precisely and solve it more systematically and creatively. Holistic problem-solving which requires interdisciplinary knowledge and systematic approach is in demand to deal with today’s interdependent and multilayer problems. 

Problem-solving is both art and science. There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong. So, it’s important to build a comprehensive framework, develop the systematical methods and practices, leverage multidisciplinary knowledge and take systematic approaches, to pursue optimal solutions and become problem-solving masters.

The New Book “Problem-Solving Master” Book Introduction


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