3 Tips for Better Problem Solving

Executives spend a lot of time solving problems. As the one in charge, you're naturally seen as the problem solver, the one with the answer, the solution. It's your job to fetter out the issues that  need your expertise attention. It takes a keen awareness and critical eye to cut through the clutter and not only determine the true nature of a challenge, but decide if it's a problem you should even be solving. The following three tips will help ensure your efforts are focused on  identifying the key issues and finding a resolution fast.

1. Systematically diagnose the situation

Do you have a method for how you analyze a problem? Do you dig deeper to understand if you're dealing with a symptom of a larger problem? Asking why something is an issue and how it happened is a great start to diagnosing a situation.  Avoid accepting the quick answer, which is typically based on preconceptions. Instead, respond to a quick answer with, “While that may be true, let’s prove it. Let’s build the data to support that answer.” In doing so, you'll either ascertain the root of the problem or know you need to probe further.

2. Avoid Information Overload

The goal of any information you receive should be to aid in the decision-making process. This may sound obvious, but use this tip as a filter before you ask for research into a problem. Obtaining information that's interesting but won't support a firm decision will distract you and your team. Often referred to as Analysis Paralysis, over-analyzing a situation can yield a mountain of data but leave you without the informed decision you need. Although complex issues may require continued deep analysis, you should know when you’ve reached the bottom.

3. Coordinate a cohesive push

Once you’ve identified and isolated the problem, commit to a path forward. Hesitation or half-hearted attempts at resolution will cause you to second guess your decision and will waste valuable time. The key is utilizing the diagnosis and research to direct your focus. Making a coordinated push to resolve the issue at hand will enable you to better track your progress and ultimately cross the problem off your list quicker.

Our natural tendency is to react quickly when faced with a troubling issue, which doesn't leave much time for careful analysis. But if we teach ourselves to slow down, be deliberate in our assessments and thoughtful with our requests for information, we'll end up with a clearer picture of the problem and better data to make the decision. When it comes to solving problems, thoughtful diagnosis and decision making can produce faster results in the end.