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8 Things Really Great Problem Solvers Do

Translate research into action

Data and precedent are important but at some point, you just have to take action.

Get enough research to understand the issues and then engage your creativity to find new ways to better solve old issues.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Systems thinking

Is a way of seeing the world as a series of interconnected and interdependent systems rather than lots of independent parts. 

As a thinking tool, it seeks to oppose the reductioni...

Systems

...are sets of related components that work together in a particular environment to perform whatever functions are required to achieve the system's objective.

The 3 main systems at play
  • Social systems: rules and structures, created by humans, that keep society functioning.
  • Industrial systems: all manufactured material world, created to facilitate human needs.
  • The ecosystem: which provides all the natural services (clean air, food, fresh water, minerals and natural resources) needed for the other two systems to exist.
Systematic approach
Most people jump straight from finding a problem to attempting to solve it.

Having a systematic approach to how you deal with problems, as opposed to just going by gut and feelings, ca...

Study the problem first

Detectives and investigators use the process. They ask both obvious and unthinkable questions.

Get close and collect information about how the problem is manifesting.  Understand where the problem does and doesn’t happen, when the problem started, and how often the problem occurs to generate critical insight for the problem-solving effort.

Question for great answers
  • Don’t look for solutions immediately; Keep redefining the problem until you arrive at the root cause.
  • Don’t try to guess the solution; try to understand how the obstacles, or challenges manifest first.
  • Gather data to analyze all potential root causes.
  • Consider all options, regardless of how irrelevant they currently appear.
  • Find a way to connect the dots. Make better analogies. One good analogy is worth three hours of discussion.

Use the why lens

Great leaders only solve problems within their control. Ones connected to their biggest why. They ask:

  • Is this our problem?
  • Why should we solve this problem?
  • What ...
Problems as opportunities

Problems fuel great leaders, providing opportunities to learn and grow to the next level. 

The greater the problem, the hungrier they are for a solution. Leaders like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates view problems as golden opportunities to disrupt the market and revolutionize the customer experience.

Acknowledging the problem

Great leaders acknowledge there is a problem and demonstrate the severity of the problem and the benefit of the solution to stakeholders, partners, and shareholders. 

This way, the leader not only takes responsibility for making the problem transparent, but he or she also explores different dimensions of the problem, consequently benefiting from others’ ideas.