Problems are always going to be part of an organization’s lifespan. I have heard someone say once that the size of the organization determines the problems that should be expected.
It is foolhardy for managers to approach problems in business, with the notion that there is a panacea for all organizational problems that can be found in business literature.
Problems are not necessarily a bad thing, the notion that it is, has to be corrected in our minds, in order to get the best out of every problematic situation. Problems are learning points, to get the best learning experience they must be faced squarely.
What is a problem? A problem is a situation where the actual condition is different from the desired position. For instance, a member of staff is not bringing in the desired work output expected, the actual situation is low performance readiness and the preferred situation is high performing staff in that position. To solve this problem, steps have to be taken to correct the situation.
A problem is also a situation where there is an opportunity, a challenge or room for improvement. This perspective makes problem solving appealing, what I call good problems include, increasing your market share, and increasing your existing customer base, expanding your business and creating innovative ways to meet stakeholder needs. These are what I call good problems.
Some problems are easier to solve than others, that is where creative problem solving comes in. This approach to problem solving is for those problems that need solutions, which are not easily attainable. Creative problem solving makes the decision maker present solutions that are novel, with a structured approach and that improves the situation.
The steps involved in creative problem solving irrespective of the size of the problem are the following:
- Understand the problem
- Define the problem
- Generate different solutions
- Determine the effectiveness of these solutions
- Choose the best solution(s)
- Implement the solution (s)
This approach involves creativity, the use of different tools and methods to solve problems; the result is normally groundbreaking solutions that affect the short, medium and long terms. Problems that have ready solutions are not suitable for problem solving. It is best for organizations to train all decision makers on critical thinking and problem solving skills, this in turn will equip decision makers with the skills to embrace challenges, opportunities and can create pioneering approaches that can achieve the organizations strategies.
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