Problem Solving

What is problem solving?

Broadly speaking, problem solving refers to a person’s ability to think laterally, logically and creatively to find innovative solutions in the face of challenges and new opportunities. Using the information available, a capable problem-solver can implement optimised solutions and find opportunities for improvement and streamlining.

Though they are in high demand in organisations, people with problem-solving skills don’t just thrive in the workplace. They are often more easily able to build relationships and excel with everyday decision-making processes.

Why is problem solving important in the workplace?

Whether you’re working individually or as part of a team, problem solving is a crucial and necessary skill to have. From coordinating a geographically dispersed team on a project to resolving customer complaints, problem solving is part of every role on a daily basis. The good news? In the words of authors Charles Conn and Robert McLean, “Great problem solvers are made, not born”.

Becoming an employee who can problem solve efficiently involves a combination of factors including, but not limited to, experience, confidence, mindset and curiosity. The best problem solvers possess excellent communication skills – they are able to express their ideas and plans clearly and effectively, but can also actively listen to the expertise brought forward by others and synthesise it to create better solutions.

Problem solving is one of the top skills required for the ever-changing modern workforce. It enables better time management skills by honing one’s ability to make decisions, prioritise pressing tasks and plan for contingencies. In addition, many company leaders view problem solving as a skill in short supply – a Harvard Business Review survey of 106 C-suite executives found that 85% believed that their companies were bad at diagnosing problems, with 87% admitting that this brought significant costs for their business. Clearly, the benefits of being a proficient problem solver in the workplace are numerous.