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Manonita Rathore
Gig economy and behaviour &soft skills Expert
Asked a question last year

Why is problems solving skills important?

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Manonita Rathore
Gig economy and behaviour &soft skills Expert

Problem-solving is important both to individuals and organizations because it enables us to exert control over our environment.

Fixing things that are broken: Some things wear out and break over time, others are flawed from day-1. Personal and business environments are full of things, activities, interactions and processes that are broken or not operating in the way they are desired to work. Problem-solving gives us a mechanism for identifying these things, figuring out why they are broken and determining a course of action to fix them.

Addressing risk: Humans have learned to identify trends and developed an awareness of cause-and-effect relationships in their environment. These skills not only enable us to fix things when they break but also anticipate what may happen in the future (based on past-experience and current events). Problem-solving can be applied to the anticipated future events and used to enable action in the present to influence the likelihood of the event occurring and/or alter the impact if the event does occur.

Improving performance: Individuals and organizations do not exist in isolation in the environment. There is a complex and ever-changing web of relationships that exist and as a result, the actions of one person will often have either a direct impact on others or an indirect impact by changing the environment dynamics. These interdependencies enable humans to work together to solve more complex problems but they also create a force that requires everyone to continuously improve performance to adapt to improvements by others. Problem-solving helps us understand relationships and implement the changes and improvements needed to compete and survive in a continually changing environment.

Seizing opportunity: Problem solving isn’t just about responding to (and fixing) the environment that exists today. It is also about innovating, creating new things and changing the environment to be more desirable. Problem-solving enables us to identify and exploit opportunities in the environment and exert (some level of) control over the future.

PROBLEM-SOLVING IS A UNIVERSAL JOB SKILL THAT APPLIES TO ANY POSITION AND EVERY INDUSTRY. WHILE EVERYONE IS TASKED WITH SOME FORM OF PROBLEM-SOLVING IN THEIR WORKPLACE, NOT ALL EMPLOYEES ARE GOOD AT IT.

  1. Define the problem: Identify the issue that you're dealing with. Observe the problem area closely to form a detailed image of what's wrong. Analyze employee behavior, workplace policies, and operating procedures. Keep your focus on the problem at this point, and resist the urge to define the problem in terms of a solution. For example, "We need to improve training procedures" speaks to the solution more than the problem. "Sales documentation is inconsistent" better defines the issue.
  2. Brainstorm alternatives: This is one of the most important stages of problem-solving. It requires a careful balance of creativity and logical thinking. Compare all possible alternatives. Analyze the money, time, staff, and resources necessary for each approach as well as the return that you can expect from various strategies.