How to improve your problem solving skills | Main Region
How to improve problem solving skills
Regardless of your job and industry, there are certain soft skills that are universally valued by employers. Problem solving is one of them, yet the ability to solve problems is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. In fact, problem solving can be a very difficult skill to master.
As the world of work becomes more complex and fast-moving, the ability to find the cause of complex problems then solve them will become increasingly vital. So, if you need to enhance your problem solving skills in response to this growing demand, we share a few practical methods for improving your problem solving techniques below.
What are problem solving skills?
While the problems you can encounter at work are endless, you can solve complex pain areas for you and your company by utilising an intelligent and efficient problem solving process.
5 ways to improve your problem solving skills
1. Identity and understand the right problem
You can follow the same principle to develop your problem solving skills in the workplace. In other words, good problem solving requires you to firstly understand the real problem you need to solve before you attempt to come up with any solutions. Often, the minute you identify the correct intent of the problem, a solution more easily follows.
2. Research the systems and practices behind the problem
For example, think of a simple scenario, such as a bucket that gets filled with water and then starts to overflow. Your first thought might be to get a bigger bucket. But this will only suppress the symptoms rather than identify the root cause. In this illustration, a bigger bucket won’t fix the underlying real problem as it, too, will eventually overflow. Remember, problem solving is not a band-aid solution.
3. Visualise the problem
“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” Steve Jobs
4. Brainstorm creative solutions
Then, brainstorm possible alternative solutions. Good problem solvers draw on their critical thinking skills and understand that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ solutions at this point. The key to problem solving is to focus on simple, creative solutions – but being able to come up with a creative answer is unrelated to your creative ability. Rather, it’s about your ability to think about a problem and potential solution from a different perspective.
So, when looking to solve problems, don’t focus on how your company has traditionally approached the issue or on how the problem came into existence. Remember, problem solving requires new thinking and new solutions.
5. Identify the best answer
Presenting your final ideas to relevant team members and stakeholders, and gathering their feedback, will also help you make the best possible choice.
Problem solving skills: Next steps
Like any skill, problem solving skills take practice. You don't become a problem solver overnight. But with no shortage of problems to be faced, these tips will help you grow your problem solving skills so you can address every problem that comes your way, whether it's in the workplace or life, with the best solution possible. What’s more, you’ll become known as a problem solver – which will have valuable lifelong career benefits.
Problem solving methods FAQ
What are the 5 steps of effective problem solving strategies
- Identify and understand the problem.
- Research the systems and practices behind the problem.
- Visualise the problem.
- Brainstorm multiple solutions.
- Identify the most suitable solution.
How do you develop a problem-solving mindset?
Free online learning courses with Hays Learning
Now that you understand what it takes to solve problems effectively, you can further upskill and advance your career with online learning courses.
Hays Learning is our online learning platform covering technical, digital and soft skills. With Hays Learning, you can access a range of free online learning courses, including in problem solving.
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