Steps to Better Problem-Solving

by Bill Gough, Hall of Fame Agent

Would you like to have better problem- solving skills whenever you have a problem come up in your life?

Having good, strong problem-solving skills can make a huge difference in your career. And, of course, having these problem-solving skills, help you and your team members resolve obstacles in any given situation.

Use the following skills for both large and small problems. They will help you to become more effective in dealing with issues quickly and efficiently!

  1. Always start out by discussing the problem. Once the problem has been stated, invite others to describe their experiences with similar problems. An employee’s experience with similar problems can point you toward a solution. 
  2. What’s the source of the problem? Encourage everyone involved to brainstorm. Clarify all root causes, searching for more information by encouraging everyone to consider unfamiliar angles. When you can uncover the root of the problem, you can create a checklist to evaluate any potential solutions. 
  3. Evaluate the benefits of any potential solutions. Everyone involved must understand how doing so will benefit them personally and improve the energy that is around them. If others involved don’t see any benefit, they won’t buy in to the problem-solving effort. Approach your potential solutions as new opportunities and then answer these questions: “What is the best result that could happen?” “What is the worst thing that could happen?” “What is most likely to happen?” 
  4. Brainstorm possible solutions. Collaborate with your team members to gather suggestions for solving the problem. Don’t allow them to concentrate on implementing those ideas just yet; everyone should remain neutral at this point regarding whether solutions are realistic and actionable.
  5. Carefully choose your approach. Keep in mind that the best solution may be a mixture of several individually unworkable ideas. Guide your team members to keep the best of their ideas. Refer back to the checklist so that you can confirm the solutions that address the problem’s causes. 
  6. Map the action steps. Answer these questions: “What is the first thing we need to do?” and “What is the next thing we need to do?” and so on. Develop an action plan that includes responsibilities, due dates, a communication system and an overall schedule that everyone agrees to support. By taking care of problems early on you can prevent major issues from arising later!

Planning and structuring will help make the problem-solving process more likely to be successful, good judgement and an element of good luck will ultimately determine whether problem solving was a success.