One necessary skill among effective team leaders is strong problem solving skills. Not every person is naturally good at finding good solutions. Even those who are, need to practice the skill. How can you improve your problem solving abilities?
Work On Visualization
It’s vitally important to have a clear understanding of the problem before you attempt to work out a solution. Visualization is one of the most powerful tools you can employ to get a solid impression of the problem that needs solving. The method you use to visualize an issue will, of course, depend on what the problem is. A concrete example of this is in mathematics problem solving; students use diagrams to visualize a problem, making it easier to find the solution. For financial hurdles in your business, you may employ graphs or charts to compare data in a visual way.
For less clear cut problems, using your mind to work around the entirety of a problem is still helpful. You must approach a problem from different perspectives, so asking others for their input may be helpful. Considering how others might be affected by the problem can help you get a better understanding of it.
Brainstorm and Anticipate Roadblocks
Once you have a clear idea of the problem, you’ll begin brainstorming solutions. Remember not to discount ideas to early in this phase. You must keep an open mind, entertaining solutions from different perspectives. It’s also helpful to consider the costs and benefits of each idea to the various parties if affects.
Not just coming up with a list of solutions, but a rough idea of all the implications of each, should include the expectation of barriers. Every action involved in solving your problem may come with a barrier or potential roadblock. Expecting these from the get-go, enables you to brainstorm ways to deal with them. This will help you eliminate surprise delays in implementing solutions.
Evaluate Before You Implement
When you approach problem solving as the means to finding just one solution, then putting it into action, you miss the opportunity to evaluate many solutions. Sure, you don’t want to spend too much time on this. However, doing a little mental test-run of a few solutions lets you consider the barriers and potentially unexpected outcomes from your best ideas. The brainstorming time lays the groundwork for solid evaluation.
When you improve your evaluation skills, you can streamline your problem solving. The best solutions are the simplest. The last thing you want in a solution is to create more work or more problems. As you consider potential solutions, be on the lookout for ways to cut down steps, remove barriers, reduce costs, and so on.
Follow Up On Solutions
Implementing a solution isn’t the end of problem solving. Following up will tell you how your solution is doing and help to inform you the next time you’re working through problem solving. Important questions to ask include: Is there an easier way this could have been accomplished? What, if any, were unexpected outcomes from implementing your solution? How have all involved parties been affected by the solution? Finally, has the problem been completely resolved? The answers to these questions, of course, help you understand how your solution is working out, but will also help you see where you need to improve your methods.
Some people think the ability to solve problems quickly is important for leaders. Instead of worrying about speed, practice ways to craft the best possible solution for a given problem. The more your practice, the better you’ll get at solving problems.