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Both problem solving and decision making are highly coveted skills in today’s business world. Both are closely linked and each requires creativity and the ability to identify options, and alternatives to an existing problem.
There are many techniques of solving problems that are available for you to use. There are simple processes like the one we have outlined in this podcast there are also more structured approaches that require some amount of prior knowledge e.g. Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats Method.
One of the most popular methods is brainstorming:
This is very useful when you want to identify new and innovative ways of doing things. It is also a great way to involve a group in the creative process. Used in a team it encourages the interplay of diverse ideas and experience which can help you arrive at better solutions to the problems you already face.
This is also a great way for you to get buy-in from your team members as the entire team is involved in choosing the most appropriate solution.
In this podcast we are going to outline how you can solve problems creatively, with brainstorming as the heart of the process:
- Problem identification – What is my concern?
- Goal definition – What do I want to achieve or change?
- Brainstorming – What can I do?
- Consequences – What might happen?
- Decision – How should I do it?
- Implementation – Do it!
- Evaluation – Did it work?
1. Problem identification – What is my concern
The first step to solving a problem is to articulate exactly what the problem is. Try and be as specific as possible when framing the problem as this will ensure that everyone is on the same page with regards to what currently exists in the organisation.
2. Goal definition – What do I want to achieve or change
The second step is to figure out what it is that you want to achieve or change. What is the ideal future state? What is the goal? This should also be clearly articulated and agreed upon with the team before the brain storming session is carried out.
3. Brainstorming – What can I do
In this portion of the process, the team or individuals sit down and identify a list of possible solutions to the problem. At the point you don’t need to sort through the options or understand their viability, you just need to identify as many creative solutions as you can to the problem.
4. Consequences – What might happen
For each possible solution that you have identified, now look at what might happen should you implement it. This is where you can weed out the impossible, impractical or inappropriate solutions from the one’s that can actually be implemented and solve the problem.
5. Decision – How should I do it
Once you have a list of possible solutions, you and your team need to make a decision about which one you want to implement and devise an action plan to implement it. The action plan should include timelines, actions and milestones to help you implement the solution.