This month we’re taking a closer look at Problem Solving in the workplace, and while 2020 has thrown some wacky problems our way, solid problem solving skills are a key to success in all areas of life and work.
Much of what I needed to know about problem solving, I learned in Kindergarten.
Remember when sharing toys and figuring out how to divide 10 cookies for 20 friends seemed unsolvable?
We embraced a simple approach back then:
- Identify the problem or challenge.
- Fact find – what do I know, what have I tried?
- Think of ways to solve the problem – brainstorm, creative thinking, generate ideas.
- Test the ideas.
Problem solving adult-style.
Adult problems can be more complex, some proactive. For example; designing a product or process that solves a problem for a customer. Some are reactive. For example; out of spec product shipped to a customer. The good news is, most of us have the skills we need to handle any problem that comes at us! We just need to take a breath, prioritize, and follow the same basic steps we learned in kindergarten – with some slight modifications.
- Define the problem – What are we solving?
- Gather information – How or Why did it happen?
- Break the problem into parts – Getting to Root Cause.
- Identify solutions – Brainstorming!
- Select the best solution – What solves the problem for everyone and what processes can we put in place to minimize recurrence?
- Take action! Often this is where a problem gets stuck. Decide what to do, and DO IT!
- Document the agreement. Another area where problems get stuck! Documentation outlines the approach, and the solution – and gives you something to review later in case of recurrence.
- Examine the results. Did we fix it? If not…go back to Step 1.
One last note…
As a business owner, you naturally feel like you need to be aware of, in control of, and solve every problem. Spoiler alert. You don’t. Developing problem solving skills throughout your work force makes good business sense. It sets your team up with the skills and confidence to feel empowered to solve problems, and, it frees you up to do what you do best – building your business.
At E&M Design Solutions we help companies develop processes to minimize problems, and we offer courses that help employees develop the skills needed to identify problem root cause and put corrective actions into place to handle problems like a boss. Our Corrective Action / Root Cause Virtual Classroom course goes into additional detail to our Blog summary, including tools participants can leverage to arrive at root cause and generate possible solutions.
Thanks for reading! Here is to problems solved, delighted customers and maximum profitability.
Cheryl and Team
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