Sunday, October 10, 2021


Great problem-solvers show emotional intelligence to dispassionately analyze the situation objectively, flexibility to make the adjustment, creativity to think of out-of-the box solutions and wisdom to solve problems with less side effects.

Problem-solving today has a very wide scope, intricate factors and multitude of perspectives. The main emphasis is in doing better pre-work, such as defining the situation and the "success criteria," taking consideration of the range of options, rather than the traditional "jump to solution" problem-solving method. The good scenario for problem-solving goes between flexibility and hard processes, with the ultimate goal to get higher than expected results. 

Ask people to make a self-assessment whether they are part of the problem, or part of the solution. Understand that everyone plays a "piece of the pie" in collaborative problem-solving. Make an objective evaluation of the following characteristics to recognize the real problem-solvers and improve the overall problem-solving effectiveness.

Innovativeness: There is a role for intuition and creativity in problem-solving. Individuals will be more innovative if they are encouraged to think creatively, and enjoy problem-solving jigsaw puzzles. As nowadays, with increasing pace of changes and frequent disruptions, the best problem-solving practices are outdated sooner than ever and the “commonly known” method is no longer working anymore when the circumstances change. Sometimes lack of creativity becomes the problem as people continue getting stuck at the “we always do things like that,” mentality; or “my way is the best way” impasse, etc. Innovative problem-solvers are in demand as they are open-minded to embrace diverse viewpoints, finding common ground and initiating creative dialogues, deepen understanding of a variety of complexity, appreciate the interaction and interrelationship dynamic, and figure out alternative solutions.

People who can solve problems in a new way are the innovators. Creative problem-solving starts with creative communication, sets alternative choices, and then you have to make the best decisions you can, based on connecting unusual dots, identify and prioritize alternative solutions. Innovative problem-solvers have the ability to reframe the circumstances or conditions around a problem and solve it creatively. Evaluate which alternatives might work better than others based on reasoning, logic, calculation, and conscious weighing of expected outcomes, etc. Take a structural way to identify and prioritize alternative solutions, and test every assumption if possible.

Logic: Many problems today are complex and interdependent. Every complex problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem. Good problem-solvers can fix the root cause of one problem; while a great problem-solver can perhaps solve a chain of related issues. Solving problems requires people who practice excellent analytical logic and problem-solving skills. As there is as much creative thinking, critical thinking, strategic thinking and system thinking that go into problem identification as well as solution discovery. To clarify the logic behind the problem, it’s important to continue pondering: What is the problem? Is that the real problem? Or the symptom of another large scale problem? What are possible solutions? Do they cause any side effects? Are they proactive and progressive? What are methodologies and practices to solve problems in an intelligent way? Who are insightful problem-framers or innovative problem-solvers?

Logic is perhaps the very clue hidden in varying circumstances and the abstract across disciplinary domains horizontally for complex problem-solving. An insightful problem-solving mindset with curiosity, self-inclusiveness, creativity, and progression, directly impacts the intellectual sophistication of problem-solving competencies. A logical problem-solver has the ability for examining inference via analyzing, evaluating, and producing coherent argumentation to derive a solution drawing from knowledge, experience or a pool of quality information. It is also important to embed analytics & synthesis in actual business decisions - problem-solving scenarios. Otherwise, fixing the wrong cause of a problem or fixing the problem in a wrong way is creating more gaps and leading to even more serious problems later on.

Interdisciplinarity: As we move forward towards more radical business transformation with nonlinearity and cross-disciplinarity, the problems become over-complex and interconnected. Some or many solve certain problems in a certain area but create other problems in the other domains. Thus, solutions to such complex problems need to be made from a much broader and encompassing view that is not possible in linear thinking and single knowledge domain. Both problem diagnosis and solutions are interdisciplinary. The assumption that there is a single cause to a "problem" in a complex adaptive organization is unhelpful. You need to be looking for patterns rather than isolating causes. There are multiple, inter-related dynamics, you have to really dig beneath the superficial layer, to understand correlation and causation. The more complex the situation is, the more important it is to apply multidimensional thought processes and cross disciplinary knowledge to see underneath the symptoms and dig into root causes of the problem.

Knowledge is no doubt important but more than that is complete awareness of what is happening in the context from a holistic perspective. Philosophy, sociology, technology, psychology, ecology, etc, are all interdependent knowledge domains great problems-solvers should dig through to truly solve complex problems without causing further issues later on. In fact, it’s important to understand the interdependence of varying relevant issues or connected pieces, see a larger system with interactive pieces and “conflict” goals; provide the deep insight into the emergent properties, gain an in-depth understanding of emerging or existing problems, take multidisciplinary approaches, select tailored tools, methods, and practices to pursue an optimal solution.

Quantification: The quality evaluation of problem-solving is to ensure the real problems have been fixed and cause the least side effect possible. Quality is defined by a number of factors, such as effectiveness, efficiency, flexibility, performance, manageability, reusability, reliability, availability, or maturity. S.M.A.R.T goals are more as a guide based on meeting the five criteria-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely to drive problem-solving accountability. The professional qualification of problem-solvers is usually proportional to the quality of solutions that they offer. Effective problem solvers intend to fix the right problems and do the right things; an efficient problem-solver can leverage resource and time cost-efficiently; a reliable problem-solver can take responsibilities or take further steps in enhancing scientific disciplines of problem-solving, a flexible problem-solver can come up with alternative solutions.

Selecting the right measure of problem-solving qualification and measuring it right are both art and science. Every measure selected should be part of a link of cause-and-effect relationships, and ultimately affect the growth and long-term perspectives. Problem-solving methodologies and processes are “hard,” which can perhaps be assessed in a more tangible way with return on investment analysis; but problem-solvers are humans who are holistic and organic, it’s critical to set the right parameters, evaluate mindset, attitude, actions, understand psychology behind intention, motivation behind actions, and cause-effect approximation. It takes a systematic approach, putting the cohesive effort into taking the correct measurement, collecting the obtained data, analyzing, evaluating and determining the maturity of problem-solving and problem-solvers.

Consistency: Either running a successful business or living a progressive life is an iterative problem-solving continuum. Great problem-solvers are consistent in their thinking and acting for solving problems almost on a daily basis in a consistent way. Consistency remains a favorite mantra for quality problem-solving and delivering a shared brand promise across boundaries. Problem-solvers with consistency are consistent in leveraging cohesive principles, processes, methodologies to solve problems, and cultivate the habit of learning and problem-solving

Consistency doesn’t mean to keep static or stagnate. Consistency enhances professionalism; professionalism implies consistency, business professionals with consistency are consistent in the habit of thinking, learning, acting, builds trust, and overall problem-solving maturity based on the simple logic. Unprofessionalism leads to bad judgment and causes long-term stagnation. From mindset to attitude to behavior, consistency is a critical element for delivering quality and cohesive solutions. Consistency harmonizes humanities.

There are no unsolvable problems, but there are complex problems that are those you cannot solve with given resources, knowledge and capabilities you have at your disposal at the time the problem arises. Solutions to complex problems are not true-or-false, but better or worse. Great problem-solvers show emotional intelligence to dispassionately analyze the situation objectively, flexibility to make the adjustment, creativity to think of out-of-the box solutions and wisdom to solve problems with less side effects.


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