The Soviet Union was a superpower that collapsed in 1991 due to conflicts between conservatives and radical reformers with the blame game. The desire of the young Russians was to open up and reform the whole country. A light story illustrates its successive five leaders for their style of managing the country.
Once all the five leaders of the Soviet Union happened to travel together in a badly maintained train. Due to a shortage of coal, the train came to a grinding halt.
- Lenin ordered the train driver to be shot dead.
- Lenin dies and Stalin took over the control of the train and fueled it with coal, wood, and anything he could manage. The train ran for a short while and failed once again.
- Stalin ordered to shoot the entire train staff and he also died.
- The leadership mantle of running the train fell on Nikita Khrushchev who rehabilitated the train driver and its staff by resurrection and managed to start the train unsteadily which broke down once again after a short while.
- Then Brezhnev threw Khrushchev out from the train and took reins of the train. He ordered all to pull down the shutters of the door and pretend that the train was moving even though the train stopped running.
- Finally, Gorbachev took over the train. He peeped through the train window and kept on shouting, “The train has stopped.”
All highlighted the problem but could not give any useful solution to the problem of bringing the train into running condition.
Whether you are a student, employee,a parent, an intern, a businessman, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company you are going to have problems big or small at some point in life. They are integral part of everybody’s life. Whether we like it or not, we all have to make decisions, which will either solve the problem or ignore the problem.
Either you can be a problem creator or a problem solver. You have to decide who you want to become. Problem solvers have always been and will always be in high demand.
Problem solvers are people who are ready to acknowledge their own problems and others, be supportive and helpful in overcoming the challenge. They avoid drama and focus on finding solutions.
So, how to become a problem-solver? Is there a strategy or process that can be adopted? The effective problem-solving process usually involves working through a number of steps, such as those outlined below.
Problem Solving: 7 steps of the process.
- Accept the problem.
When there is a problem, don’t place your hand on your heart and keep saying, “All is well.” The first step to solve any problem is to accept and acknowledge that there is a problem. Denying its existence will delay its rectification. Stop running away from the problem because it will increase the distance from the solution. You want to transcend the problem, then first accept the problem.
- Identify and define the problem.
“Given one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes to find the solution.”- Albert Einstein.
Understanding the problem is one of the most difficult steps, but the most important as a well-defined problem often contains its own solution. When the problem is not well defined and understood, any solution will further create more problems.
- Investigate and find out the root causes.
The key to Japanese problem-solving skills is a concept called “Saihatsu Boshi” which means “prevention of re-occurrence.”
The first step in SB is “genin wo mitsukeru” which means getting to the root cause of the problem. It involves looking at all the possible reasons why something went wrong, what factors led to failure, mistake, or defect.
The Americans call it “Detailed Post Mortem.”
- Find multiple courses of solutions for the problem.
Most of us believe that for each and every problem, there is one right solution. But nothing can be more wrong. For most problems, there are going to be many solutions; some less effective and others more effective. In short, it is important to consider a range of various alternatives rather than just selecting the first solution that pops into your mind.
Being a problem-solver means not settling for the first solution, but think innovatively and outside the box. Look for many alternative solutions at unusual places or from unusual sources.
- Find the solution that will work best.
Once you have many potential solutions, then brainstorm the pros and cons of each solution. Keep an open mind and be receptive to the different perceptions. Eliminate unsuitable options and then subject all the remaining solutions to deep analysis and then select the one that best solves the problem.
Make sure you choose the solution that offers the best chance of success based on the variable you will use to measure the final outcome.
- Plan and implement the solution.
A key link in the entire problem-solving chain is execution. Develop a tight plan and strategy to execute and implement your solution. You can have the greatest solution, but unless you take steps every day to make it a reality, it is worth nothing. You need to cover what, who, when, and how of the plan.
And equally important is to think about how you are going to determine if your solution was a success, which finally leads us to the last step.
- Measure the success of your solution, analyze, evaluate and adjust if needed.
Remember the saying, “What’s get measured gets managed.”. Measuring and evaluating the success of your solution is an extremely vital step, but often neglected. It shows you whether your solution is the right one, or whether you need to start from step 1 again.
Never assume that all is well and fine. Always remember, problem-solving process is a work-in-progress.
Using these seven steps of the problem-solving process will develop your problem-solving acumen and help you stand out from the crowd in the organization. When you commit to being a problem-solver and not a problem-creator, you make yourself indispensable and irreplaceable.
Just pause, and reflect on the steps outlined in this article. Let me know in the comment section below as to how would you apply them to your scenario?
Happy Problem Solving.