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Problem Solving and Decision Making - Two Essential Skills of a Good Leader

Darren Matthews

Problem solving and decision making are two fascinating skillsets. We call them out as two separate skills – and they are – but they also make use of the same core attributes.

They feed on a need to communicate well, both through questioning and listening, and be patient and not rushing both processes through. Thus, the greatest challenge any leader faces when it comes to solving problems and decision making is when the pressure of time comes into play. But as Robert Schuller highlights in his quote, allowing problem-solving to become the decision means you’ll never break free from the problem.

“Never bring the problem-solving stage into the decision-making stage. Otherwise, you surrender yourself to the problem rather than the solution.”—Robert H. Schuller

So how does a leader avoid this trap? How do they ensure the problem solving doesn’t become the be-all and end-all?

The 7 steps of Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making

A vital hurdle every leader must overcome is to avoid the impulsive urge to make quick decisions . Often when confronted with a problem, leaders or managers fall back in past behaviours. Urgency creates pressure to act quickly as a result, the problem still exists, just side-lined until it rears its ugly head again.

Good problem solving opens opportunity. A notable example of this is the first principles thinking executed by the likes of Elon Musk and others. Understanding the fundamentals blocks of a process and the problem it’s creating can lead to not just the problem but accelerate beyond it.

So, to avoid the trap, and use problem solving and decision making effectively , you should embody yourself with the following seven steps.

1.      What is the problem?

Often, especially in time-critical situations, people don’t define the problem. Some label themselves as fire-fighters, just content with dowsing out the flames. It is a reactionary behaviour and one commonplace with under-trained leaders. As great as some fire-fighters are, they can only put out so many fires at one time, often becoming a little industry.

The better approach is to define the problem, and this means asking the following questions:

  • What is happening? ( What makes you think there is a problem?)
  • Where is it taking place?
  • How is it happening?
  • When is it happening?
  • Why is it happening?
  • With whom is it happening? (This isn’t a blame game…all you want to do is isolate the problem to a granular level.)
  • Define what you understand to be the problem in writing by using as few sentences as possible. (Look at the answers to your what, where, why, when, and how questions.)

2.      What are the potential causes?

Having defined the problem it is now time to find out what might be causing the problem. Your leadership skills: your communication skills need to be strong, as you look to gather input from your team and those involved in the problem.

Key points:

  • Talk to those involved individually. Groupthink is a common cause of blindness to the problem, especially if there is blame culture within the business.
  • Document what you’ve heard and what you think is the root cause is.
  • Be inquisitive. You don’t know what you don’t know, so get the input of others and open yourself up to the feedback you’ll need to solve this problem.

3.      What other ways can you overcome the problem?

 Sometimes, getting to the root cause can take time. Of course, you can’t ignore it, but it is important to produce a plan to temporarily fix the problem. In business, a problem will be costing the business money, whether it be sales or profit. So, a temporary fix allows the business to move forward, providing it neutralises the downside of the original problem.

4.      How will you resolve the problem?

At this stage, you still don’t know what the actual problem is. All you have is a definition of the problem which is a diagnosis of the issue. You will have the team’s input, as well as your opinions as to what the next steps should be.

If you don’t, then at this stage you should think about reassessing the problem. One way forward could be to become more granular and adopt a first-principles approach.

  • Break the problem down into its core parts
  • What forms the foundational blocks of the system in operation?
  • Ask powerful questions to get to the truth of the problem
  • How do the parts fit together?
  • What was the original purpose of the system working in this way?
  • Name and separate your assumptions from the facts
  • Remind yourself of the goal and create a new solution

Solve hard problems with inversion

Another way is to invert the problem using the following technique:

1. Understand the problem

Every solution starts with developing a clear understanding of what the problem is. In this instance, some clarity of the issue is vital.

2. Ask the opposite question

Convention wisdom means we see the world logically. But what if you turned the logical outcome on its head. Asking the opposite questions brings an unfamiliar perspective.

3. Answer the opposite question

It seems a simple logic, but you can’t just ask the opposite question and not answer it. You must think through the dynamics that come from asking the question. You're looking for alternative viewpoints and thoughts you've not had before.

4. Join your answers up with your original problem

This is where solutions are born. You’re taking your conventional wisdom and aligning it with the opposite perspective. So often the blockers seen in the original problem become part of the solution.

5.      Define a plan to either fix the problem permanently or temporarily

You now know the problem. You understand the fix, and you are a position to assess the risks involved.

Assessing the risks means considering the worst-case scenarios and ensuring you avoid them. Your plan should take into the following points:

  • Is there any downtime to implementing the solution? If so, how long, and how much will it cost? Do you have backup systems in place to minimise the impact?
  • If the risk is too great, consider a temporary fix which keeps current operations in place and gives you time to further prepare for a permanent fix.
  • Document the plan and share it with all the relevant stakeholders. Communication is key.

Here we see the two skills of problem solving and decision making coming together. The two skills are vital to managing business risks as well as solving the problem.

6.      Monitor and measure the plan

Having evolved through the five steps to this stage, you mustn’t take your eye off the ball as it were.

  • Define timelines and assess progress
  • Report to the stakeholders, ensuring everyone is aware of progress or any delays.
  • If the plan doesn’t deliver, ask why? Learn from failure.

7.      Have you fixed the problem?

Don’t forget the problem you started with. Have you fixed it? You might find it wasn’t a problem at all. You will have learnt a lot about the part of the business where the problem occurred, and improvements will have taken place.

Use the opportunity to assess what worked, what didn’t, and what would have helped. These are three good questions to give you some perspective on the process you’ve undertaken.

Problem solving and decision making in unison

Throughout the process of problem solving, you’re making decisions. Right from the beginning when the problem first becomes clear, you have a choice to either react – firefight or to investigate. This progresses as move onto risk assessing the problem and then defining the solutions to overcome the issue.

Throughout the process, the critical element is to make decisions with the correct information to hand. Finding out the facts, as well as defeating your assumptions are all part of the process of making the right decision.

Problem solving and decision making – a process 

Problem solving isn’t easy. It becomes even more challenging when you have decisions to make. The seven steps I’ve outlined will give you the ability to investigate and diagnose the problem correctly.

  • What is the problem?
  • What are the potential causes?
  • What other ways can you overcome the problem?
  • How will you resolve the problem?
  • Define a plan to either fix the problem permanently or temporarily.
  • Monitor and measure the plan.
  • Have you fixed the problem?

Of course, this logical step by step process might not enable you to diagnose the issue at hand. Some problems can be extremely hard, and an alternative approach might help. In this instance, first principles thinking or using the power of inversion are excellent ways to dig into hard problems. Problem solving and decision making are two skills every good leader needs. Using them together is an effective way to work.

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  • Decision-Making and Problem Solving

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Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

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The SkillsYouNeed Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Introduction to Communication Skills - The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Making decisions and solving problems are two key areas in life, whether you are at home or at work. Whatever you’re doing, and wherever you are, you are faced with countless decisions and problems, both small and large, every day.

Many decisions and problems are so small that we may not even notice them. Even small decisions, however, can be overwhelming to some people. They may come to a halt as they consider their dilemma and try to decide what to do.

Small and Large Decisions

In your day-to-day life you're likely to encounter numerous 'small decisions', including, for example:

Tea or coffee?

What shall I have in my sandwich? Or should I have a salad instead today?

What shall I wear today?

Larger decisions may occur less frequently but may include:

Should we repaint the kitchen? If so, what colour?

Should we relocate?

Should I propose to my partner? Do I really want to spend the rest of my life with him/her?

These decisions, and others like them, may take considerable time and effort to make.

The relationship between decision-making and problem-solving is complex. Decision-making is perhaps best thought of as a key part of problem-solving: one part of the overall process.

Our approach at Skills You Need is to set out a framework to help guide you through the decision-making process. You won’t always need to use the whole framework, or even use it at all, but you may find it useful if you are a bit ‘stuck’ and need something to help you make a difficult decision.

Decision Making

Effective Decision-Making

This page provides information about ways of making a decision, including basing it on logic or emotion (‘gut feeling’). It also explains what can stop you making an effective decision, including too much or too little information, and not really caring about the outcome.

A Decision-Making Framework

This page sets out one possible framework for decision-making.

The framework described is quite extensive, and may seem quite formal. But it is also a helpful process to run through in a briefer form, for smaller problems, as it will help you to make sure that you really do have all the information that you need.

Problem Solving

Introduction to Problem-Solving

This page provides a general introduction to the idea of problem-solving. It explores the idea of goals (things that you want to achieve) and barriers (things that may prevent you from achieving your goals), and explains the problem-solving process at a broad level.

The first stage in solving any problem is to identify it, and then break it down into its component parts. Even the biggest, most intractable-seeming problems, can become much more manageable if they are broken down into smaller parts. This page provides some advice about techniques you can use to do so.

Sometimes, the possible options to address your problem are obvious. At other times, you may need to involve others, or think more laterally to find alternatives. This page explains some principles, and some tools and techniques to help you do so.

Having generated solutions, you need to decide which one to take, which is where decision-making meets problem-solving. But once decided, there is another step: to deliver on your decision, and then see if your chosen solution works. This page helps you through this process.

‘Social’ problems are those that we encounter in everyday life, including money trouble, problems with other people, health problems and crime. These problems, like any others, are best solved using a framework to identify the problem, work out the options for addressing it, and then deciding which option to use.

This page provides more information about the key skills needed for practical problem-solving in real life.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

Guiding you through the key skills needed in life

As always at Skills You Need, our approach to these key skills is to provide practical ways to manage the process, and to develop your skills.

Neither problem-solving nor decision-making is an intrinsically difficult process and we hope you will find our pages useful in developing your skills.

Start with: Decision Making Problem Solving

See also: Improving Communication Interpersonal Communication Skills Building Confidence

Sintelly

Problem solving vs decision making is a critical comparison to make, as it helps us differentiate these two essential skills.

Problem Solving: A Systematic Approach

Problem solving is a structured, methodical process aimed at identifying possible answers or solutions to a given situation. To effectively solve a problem, it’s essential to distinguish between causes and symptoms. For instance, when dealing with an issue like a malfunctioning AC, ensure that the actual problem, like dead batteries or incorrect settings, is identified before rushing to a solution. This systematic approach not only saves time but also prevents missteps. Effective problem-solving skills are crucial in daily life, whether you’re an individual or part of a larger organization. Leaders and managers, especially, rely on these skills to address complex issues.

Decision Making: The Culmination of Problem Solving

The relationship between problem solving vs decision making is such that decision making is the action that arises from insights collected during the problem-solving process. To make sound decisions, you need to consider multiple options, evaluate their impact on the organization, weigh the ethical considerations, and assess the effect on all involved parties. Decisions need to be made in a timely manner, with a list of priorities to guide you when facing multiple issues. Successful decision making is especially vital for leaders and managers, as their choices significantly influence the people under their care.

Two Types of Decision Makers

Understanding the two predominant types of decision makers can provide valuable insights into effective decision making.

Methodical Decision Makers

This type adopts a rational and methodical approach in the problem solving vs decision making dilemma. They gather information, consult others, and meticulously analyze the available options. Their decisions are well-reasoned and data-driven, making them suitable for complex, critical choices. This approach is common among professionals and leaders who need to ensure that decisions are thoroughly evaluated.

Instinctive Decision Makers

Instinctive decision makers rely on their emotions and intuition in the problem solving vs decision making process. While their decisions can be creative, they may struggle to explain the reasoning behind their choices. This approach is often driven by spontaneity and may work well for less complex, day-to-day decisions. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between intuition and reason, as gut feelings alone may not suffice in complex situations.

Problem solving vs decision making: it's crucial to strike a balance between intuition and reason.

The Importance of Problem Solving vs Decision Making Skills

The significance of problem-solving vs decision-making skills cannot be overstated.

Leaders and Managers’ Role

Leaders and managers play a critical role in driving the decision-making process, making them central figures in the problem solving vs decision making debate. Their decisions shape the course of their organizations and the lives of those they lead. Developing effective decision-making skills is an ongoing process for them.

Enhancing the Decision-Making Process

Once a decision is made in the problem solving vs decision making context, it must be implemented and evaluated. This step provides valuable insights into the decision-making process and the effectiveness of the chosen solution. The gathered information can help improve future decision making.

Why List Possible Solutions?

Listing possible solutions is a fundamental aspect of the decision-making process in the problem solving vs decision making challenge. It allows you to explore alternatives and ensure that the most suitable option is chosen. It also helps you consider the broader impact of your decision, including cost, ethics, and how it affects all parties involved.

In conclusion, the comparison of problem solving vs decision making is crucial for understanding their respective roles. Methodical and instinctive decision-making approaches each have their place, and leaders and managers must strike a balance between them. Effective decision making and problem-solving skills are crucial in navigating the complex challenges of the modern world. By understanding the relationship between these two processes and constantly refining these skills, individuals and organizations can make more informed and impactful choices.

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problem solving skills in the workplace

The importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace can’t be overstated. Every business and job role has its problems. From entry-level hires to senior staffers, every one of your employees will face challenges that don’t can’t be answered by doing a quick Google search – or asking ChatGPT to come up with solutions.

That’s why employers must hire people with excellent problem-solving skills, especially for roles that require dealing with complex business challenges, tight deadlines, and changing variables – for example, when recruiting leaders .

But what are problem-solving skills? What role do they play in the workplace? 

And, most importantly, how can you evaluate candidates’ skills before you hire them?

Table of contents

What are problem solving skills, the benefits of problem solving skills: why are problem solving skills important , examples of problems at the workplace – and how problem solving skills can help, how to assess problem solving skills, evaluate problem solving skills and hire candidates who can think for themselves.

To fully understand the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace, it’s important first to understand the broad skill set that we commonly refer to as “problem solving skills”. 

Generally, problem-solving refers to a person’s ability to successfully manage and find solutions for complex and unexpected situations. 

Candidates with great problem-solving skills have a combination of analytical and creative thinking. They’re comfortable with making decisions and confident enough to rise to challenges in the workplace.

These candidates possess a combination of analytical, creative, and critical-thinking skills – and a high level of attention to detail . As a result, they will quickly identify problems when they arise and identify the most effective solutions. 

They’ll also identify the factors and forces that might have caused the problem and instigate changes to mitigate future challenges.

There are six key problem-solving skills that you should look for when assessing job candidates: 

key problem solving skills to look for when hiring

1. Listening skills

Active listeners are generally great problem solvers. 

They can listen to those around them to gather the information needed to solve the problem at hand. They also recognize the importance of valuing others’ opinions and experiences to help understand why the problem occurred and define the best course of action to remedy it. 

2. Analytical thinking skills 

Analytical thinkers can identify the logical reasons why a problem occurred, what the long-term effects of the issue could be, and identify how effective different solutions might be to select the most practical one. 

That’s why it’s essential to assess analytical thinking skills during recruitment.

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importance of problem solving and decision making skills

3. Creative thinking skills

Creative thinkers can balance their analytical skills with creative approaches to challenges. Creative thinking skills enable individuals to uncover innovative and progressive solutions to problems. 

In this way, they’re able to provide new perspectives and provide imaginative and experimental solutions to all kinds of problems. 

4. Communication skills 

Problem solvers should also possess great communication skills . The ability to effectively relay complex information thoroughly yet succinctly is a huge benefit for employers working in fast-paced environments. 

5. Decision-making skills 

Those with problem-solving skills will also possess the ability to make decisions and be confident in them. This is important, because most problem-solving involves making firm decisions to reach a successful outcome. 

6. Teamwork

Although problem-solvers need to be independent thinkers, it’s also vital for them to work well as part of a team . 

Determining the best solution often requires collaboration, so it’s important that candidates can demonstrate how they can motivate others to come up with the best solutions and work with them to help develop and implement solutions. 

Problem-solving skills enable you to find candidates who are cognitively equipped to handle anything their jobs throw at them.

Problem solvers can observe, judge, and act quickly when difficulties arise when they inevitably do. Moreover, they are not afraid of the unknown, which is invaluable to employers who rely on their employees to identify and solve problems. 

Why are problem solving skills important?

There are several important benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. Below, we’ll go through five of the most significant ones that all problem solvers can bring to their roles and workplaces: 

1. Ability to organize their time intelligently 

Time management skills can often be underlooked as one of the benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. 

However, those with problem-solving abilities also typically possess stellar time-management skills. The ability to manage their time wisely and laser-focus on what’s important to the business will lead to better decision-making and business impact. 

2. Ability to prioritize, plan, and execute strategies

Problem solvers have no issue with carefully assessing customer and business needs and deciding how to prioritize, plan, and execute strategies to meet them. They can manage all moving parts and strategize to meet multiple unique demands.

3. Ability to think outside the box

Problem solvers can often identify hidden opportunities in problems. Thinking outside of the box is an important problem-solving skill in the workplace, because it can often lead to better outcomes than the originally expected ones. 

4. Ability to work under pressure

This is often one of the most important benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. Problem solvers often work well under pressure, for example when dealing with short deadlines and changing project requirements.

Depending on your workplace culture, you might prefer someone who can deliver quick solutions or someone who takes their time to identify the next steps. Both are valid and important problem solving qualities. 

5. Ability to address risk

Planning is an important problem-solving skill. Problem solvers are not just equipped to deal with the problem at hand but are also able to anticipate problems that will arise in the future based on trends, patterns, experience, and current events.

Let’s now look at some specific examples of problems that could arise at the workplace – at any workplace, really – and how employees’ problem solving skills can help address each issue. 

Below, you’ll find five typical scenarios where problem solving skills are essential.

Conflict between team members

Poor team dynamics or lack of a collaborative spirit might result in frequent workplace conflicts – especially within larger teams.

For example, members of cross-functional teams might disagree on the way they should address a particular issue or even on the priority they should give to it. 

How problem solving skills can help: 

Teamwork is essential when solving conflict – and a cornerstone of effective cross-functional team leadership .

For this, coworkers need to share a common understanding of the team’s goals and also be willing to work towards achieving them, even when they disagree on the specific approaches to each goal.  The ability to understand others’ perspectives, analyze information critically, and come up with a few different solutions is key to finding a common ground and making progress on the team’s objectives.

Inefficient processes

Outdated, inefficient processes can reduce productivity and frustrate employees.

Multi-step approval processes are a typical example of this. Having multiple layers of approval for routine decisions can significantly slow down team progress and lead to missed opportunities.

Analytical thinking skills are key in identifying inefficiencies and building better procedures. Employees or team leads can build flowcharts that speed up decision making without having to ask a supervisor’s permission at every step of the process. 

Communication challenges

Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and lack of clarity and direction – which, in turn, can be detrimental to team performance. 

For example, if you’re a remote-first company, maintaining clear and effective remote communication can be challenging. 

The over-reliance on emails and messaging apps might make it feel like teams are communicating effectively and are always connected. However, the lack of non-verbal cues and face-to-face interactions might make it more difficult to build rapport and a positive workplace culture .

Listening skills are essential to solving communication issues – and good listeners are often excellent at solving problems by recognizing, understanding, and acknowledging others’ points of view. 

One-on-one meetings enable people to communicate more freely and effectively and solve challenges together, so consider encouraging team members to hop on a call each time they encounter a difficult challenge.

Additionally, you can help employees bond with each other with some remote team building activities to improve team cohesion. Plus, problem solving challenges can be excellent team building exercises.

Technological disruptions 

New technologies often disrupt the usual ways of doing things – and sometimes, this can be disruptive for entire teams’ work. 

For example, generative AI and automation technologies have revolutionized numerous types of work, including data analysis, marketing, customer service, and even content creation.

Creative thinking and cognitive flexibility are among the top 10 most important skills of the future , according to the World Economic Forum. Both are essential for adopting new technologies successfully – and finding ways to make the most out of each new tool to improve productivity. 

Insufficient onboarding resources 

Team members may struggle to do their best work if they haven't received proper training or resources.

For example, start-ups that experience rapid growth might hire a few employees at once – or even entire teams. 

If they fail to allocate sufficient time and resources to onboarding new hires, this might lead to lost productivity, a lacking sense of belonging, or increased turnover. That’s true not only for junior employees but also for newly hired senior leaders , as the Harvard Business Review points out.

Your leadership team’s analytical and decision-making skills are crucial in enabling them to distribute limited resources in a way that would give their teams the best chances of success. 

To build a solid onboarding process , you need leaders who are able to take ownership of it – and who have the right problem-solving skills.

Many organizations use problem-solving interview questions to identify the right candidates for their job openings. However, the most effective way to assess problem-solving skills is with pre-employment skills assessments . 

That’s because skills tests provide an objective way to quantify a candidate’s problem-solving skills in a way that isn’t possible during an interview.

How problem solving skills tests work

Tests like TestGorilla’s problem-solving skills test assist organizations in finding candidates who are able to quickly identify the key elements of the problem and work through the problem at speed without making mistakes. 

By presenting candidates with a wide range of questions related to typical problem-solving scenarios, hiring teams can rank their candidates based on an intensive assessment of each candidate’s skill level.

screenshot of a sample question in TestGorilla’s pre-employment problem-solving test

The test specifically evaluates whether a candidate can perform problem-solving tasks like:

Creating and adjust schedules

Prioritizing items based on a given set of rules

Interpreting data and applying logic to make decisions

Analyzing textual and numerical information to draw conclusions

As you can see, even the best interviewer would have trouble assessing each of these skill areas while still covering all the other questions that they need to ask. 

If you’re convinced of the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace and want to build a team of employees that can think independently and solve their own problems without constant supervision, assess problem-solving skills during the hiring process. 

Problem-solving skills tests like ours are an excellent way to achieve this – especially if you combine them with other skills tests. Check out our extensive test library for other tests you can use in your talent assessment process to hire the best talent. 

Sign up for our free plan to start building your first assessment – or schedule a demo with one of our experts to see how to evaluate applicants’ problem solving skills quickly, efficiently, and without bias. 

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The Most Important Decision-Making Skills (With Examples)

  • Most Common Skills
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Good decision-making skills are sought by almost all companies. Whether you’re applying for an entry-level position or an executive role, you should highlight your decision-making skills throughout the application process.

In this article, we will go over what decision-making skills are, how to improve your skills in this area, and how to highlight your ability to make good decisions.

Key Takeaways:

You make decisions every day for various functions, from personal to professional, and consistently making good decisions can only help your career.

There are three main ways to approach decision-making: using intuition, reasoning, or a combination of both.

When making a decision you should identify the problem, do some research, and evaluate your options before you make a decision.

The most important decision-making skills with examples.

What are decision-making skills?

The most important decision-making skills, more decision-making skills, the decision-making process, how to improve your decision-making skills, how to highlight your decision-making skills while job hunting, decisiveness skills faqs.

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Decision-making skills are about your ability to choose a good option out of two or more alternatives. It takes a host of skills to be able to quickly and compassionately make wise choices that are good for both the present and the future.

There are three main categories of decision-making skills that correspond to three different ways to make decisions: using intuition, reasoning, or a combination of both.

Intuition is your default response, or the gut feeling you get when presented with a problem or decision to make. This first reaction comes from a combination of things you’ve learned, experiences you’ve had, and opinions you hold, so everyone’s intuition is different.

Using intuition means basing your decision on your lived experiences, so it can be subjective. Skills like creativity and emotional intelligence fall into this category.

Reasoning , on the other hand, is rooted in data. You reason when you use the data available to you and only base a decision on facts and figures instead of your instinctive reaction. This is a more objective way to come to a decision and it’s usually how bigger decisions are made.

Problem-solving and logical thinking are examples of decision-making skills in this category.

Both. Most often, decisions are made with some combination of both intuition and reasoning. Using both is a good way to check and make sure your choice is logical while also paying attention to the human element of it.

Since we make decisions all the time, we usually don’t stop to think about whether we should make an intuition-based or reason-based decision. Instead, we naturally use a combination of the two.

Many skills go into making effective decisions, from problem-solving to emotional intelligence. Here are some of the most important ones:

Problem-solving. The number one skill you need to be an effective decision-maker is problem-solving. Since decisions are just a type of problem (determining which option is the best), having strong problem-solving skills is definitely an asset.

If you approach a decision from a logical mindset as if it were a problem to solve, odds are that the solutions you come up with and your final decision will be stronger.

Choosing a reliable manufacturer to supply the product you sell. Comparing candidates to the job requirements. Reassigning tasks when an employee unexpectedly resigns.

Collaboration. Decisions can’t always be made by one person. You need to have good collaboration and compromise skills to make the best decision sometimes when it involves a group.

Even when you’re making a decision on your own, getting extra input from friends or coworkers can help you brainstorm the best outcome. Collaboration is your friend, both when you need to make a group decision and when you’re the one responsible for making the decision.

Brainstorming potential names for a new product. Asking staff about the impact of extended hours. Listening to employee needs and preferences for a new office space.

Emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence , or EQ, is the ability to observe and understand your own emotions and the emotions of the people around you. Being able to take emotions into account will make you a stronger decision-maker.

Think of this as related to intuitive decision-making. You need to balance facts, figures, and emotions to come to a good decision.

Proposing the best way to boost sales. Evaluating the impact of cutting spending. Choosing an interim manager from an internal pool.

Logical reasoning. This skill is key for the middle steps of the decision-making process. Being able to fully evaluate and analyze your information, options, and decisions will make your decisions stronger.

This skill is more closely related to reasoning, the side of decision-making that relies on facts and figures instead of on emotions.

Deciding how bonuses will be given for the year. Choosing which employee or employees to lay off. Creating an employee schedule based on time off requests and coverage needs.

Creativity. The more creative you are in your problem-solving, the better options and potential outcomes you’ll have to work with, as well as having creative ways to implement your decision.

The most straightforward option isn’t always the best one, and sometimes you need to think outside the box to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

Arranging a small office space so that everyone can fit comfortably and be productive. Finding ways to lower costs without sacrificing performance. Developing a new record-keeping system that meets your team’s needs.

Organization . Being organized can help you keep all of your background information, options, and other tools in order.

This allows you to stay clear-headed in your decision-making, reducing the risk that you’ll overlook a key piece of information. It can also help you feel less overwhelmed by the decision, which also results in better choices.

Creating a centralized calendar where employees can update their schedule preferences. Organizing data that will help you decide whether or not to continue a project. Collecting employee feedback in survey form to make it simpler to see what the majority wants.

There are many more skills that will help you sharpen your ability to make good decisions. Take a look at this list and see what you’re already good at and where you could improve.

Time management. Making decisions in a timely manner isn’t just about making a quick, hasty decision. Managing your time to properly work through the seven steps is a skill that will put you above everyone else.

Leadership . When collaborating and making a group decision, someone needs to take charge and make sure the decision is implemented, which is when good leadership skills are needed.

Ethics. Making ethical decisions is a necessary skill to have, so knowing how to weigh the ethical pros and cons is key.

Research . The better research you can gather in the first steps of the decision-making process, the better prepared you’ll be to make a good decision.

Analysis . Having strong analytical skills will help you ensure that your decisions are logical and reasonable.

Flexibility. Quick-thinking and flexibility are your friends when it comes to making decisions since sometimes you’ll have to compromise or new constraints will pop up, changing how you approach a decision.

Effective decision-makers use a seven-step process to tackle decisions. While it isn’t necessary to go through these exact steps when you make a basic decision, like what to cook for dinner, it can be a great way to check your thinking as you make a big work decision, like which strategy will lead to better sales.

Identify the problem. First, you need to see the decision that you need to make and understand what will go into making that decision. This step is crucial since everything else builds upon what you do here.

Make sure you properly understand the situation, what’s being asked of you, and what tools you have available to you before moving to the next step.

Do some digging. For any decision you’ll need some background information to help you choose the right option. Sometimes this means just thinking back to details from meetings, or it can be doing more sophisticated research. You can use step one to help you identify what information you’ll need to make a good decision.

Think creatively. In this step you want to think of as many solutions as possible. It doesn’t matter if they’re good or bad, you just want to consider all of your options.

Feel free to be as creative in your thinking as you want with this step. There are no bad options here since you want to think of every possible outcome. You’ll have a chance to check all of your brainstormed options later.

Evaluate your options. Here’s the part where you’ll give all your potential outcomes a second check. Go through the list of solutions you came up with in step three and test which ones feel better or sound more logical to you.

Don’t forget to keep your end goal in mind when you consider all the choices. That way you’re sure to make a good decision.

Make the decision . It’s time to pick one of the options you came up with. Keep in mind that you can choose a solution you came up with or even combine solutions to make the best decision possible. Reflect on your process for step four and pick the decision you feel best about.

Act on your decision. Once you’ve decided what to do, you need to start taking the actions that will help you implement the decision. These can be big or small steps, but stay focused and resolved to get the job done.

Don’t be afraid to bring other people into your process in this step. Especially for large workplace decisions, you might want to call on your coworkers to help you get things done.

Look back. When your decision is made and you’ve had some time to see its effects, take a second to evaluate that decision. Think about whether the decision had the outcome you wanted it to, or if it wasn’t so successful.

Taking this time to reflect on your decision-making is a great way to not only improve your ability to make a good decision but also to learn more about yourself. You can even ask other people for their opinion on the effects of a decision to see how your perception of the impact lines up with others’ opinions.

To improve your decision-making skills, practice goal-setting, reducing your number of choices, and conducting good research. You should also work on your communication skills and give yourself a limit on how long you have to make a decisions.

Set good goals . Having your eye on the big picture is enormously helpful when it comes to decision-making. Someone can make all the right decisions, but if their ultimate goal is wrongheaded, then those great decisions don’t add up to anything useful.

Reduce choice. Americans love options, but being inundated with too many potential choices can paralyze you. Before you begin making decisions, try to narrow down your possible choices to the top three.

Research. Decision-making isn’t easy when you don’t have all the facts in front of you. Good decisions are predicated on good data, so start working to improve your research skills. The greater your knowledge and expertise, the simpler most decisions become.

Communicate early and often. Communication skills complement decision-making skills well. Whether you’re seeking out advice or expressing a project’s goal, thorough communication helps you make decisions more effectively.

Don’t analyze forever. The phrase “paralysis by analysis” is all too true. Don’t be afraid to make small decisions without 100% of the information you might need. A few minor failures can actually help generate better ideas. Start with the minimum viable solution, and iterate from there.

To highlight your decision-making skills in your job search , look for decision-making skills and terms in the job description, and incorporate any that apply to you into your resume and cover letter. You should also highlight them in your interview answers.

Check the job description. Read the job description carefully and look for words that indicate decision-making like:

Incorporate the decision-making skills from the job description into your resume. Look for ways to incorporate the same language from the job description into your resume .

Let’s take a look at an example resume’s work experience section showcasing decision-making skills:

Saved product team over $50k annually in materials costs by analyzing low ROI spends and rerouting funds to lucrative projects Reduced accounting labor hours by 21% by automating payroll systems and creating streamlined tracking spreadsheets Optimized virtual meeting schedule, netting an average of 3 hours of meetings saved weekly, while improving employee productivity by 6%

Expound on your decision-making skills in your cover letter. A cover letter should cover similar accomplishments where you leveraged your top-notch decision-making skills. However, you can go into more detail about one or two accomplishments, rather than briefly touching on them as you would in a resume .

Highlight your decision-making skills in your interview. For a job interview , it’s equally important to know what metrics your performance will be judged on. By showing that you’re already thinking of how to achieve the most important results, you’re painting yourself as a candidate with great decision-making abilities.

What are the key skills for decision-making?

Key skills for decision-making are problem-solving, logical reasoning, and emotional intelligence. These skills combine to help you navigate almost any decision. This is because you use your logic and EQ to consider your reasoning and intuition and come up with a balanced approach. Your problem-solving skills will also help you build confidence when you have to make a choice and stick with it.

How can I be a good decision maker?

To be good at making decisions, match your decision based on your goals and values. This ensures that your decision is one that you can stand by, regardless of the outcome. However, sometimes this is hard to figure out.

If you struggle to make decisions, make sure to manage your stress, consider all the outcomes, and weigh the pros and cons. Additionally, if you can, take some time to avoid making rash decisions. It also helps to talk to others or to write out your thoughts and feelings in the process.

What are the characteristics of a good decision?

A good decision comes with clear reasoning, judgment of values, and is realistically accomplished. As long as your decision does not bring harm to others, you can use these characteristics to determine whether or not your decision was a good one. Your decisions should, in one way or another, bring you closer to your goals, both big and small.

What is strategic decision-making?

Strategic decision-making is when you base short-term decisions on long-term goals. In a sense, your decisions are part of your “strategy” to achieve some end. Strategic decision-making is particularly useful for businesses when they need to align daily needs with long-term objectives.

How do you demonstrate strong decision-making skills?

Demonstrate strong decision-making skills by providing examples of times you’ve used good decision-making skills. You can do this in your resume, cover letter , or during your interview.

Consumer Protection Financial Bureau – Financial Knowledge and Decision-Making Skills

Harvard Business School – 5 Key Decision-Making Techniques For Managers

UMass Dartmouth – Decision-Making Process

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Amanda is a writer with experience in various industries, including travel, real estate, and career advice. After taking on internships and entry-level jobs, she is familiar with the job search process and landing that crucial first job. Included in her experience is work at an employer/intern matching startup where she marketed an intern database to employers and supported college interns looking for work experience.

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importance of problem solving and decision making skills

Decision-Making & Its Importance in Problem-Solving

Life is all about making decisions. From getting out of bed in the morning until you call it a day,…

Decision Making & Its Importance In Problem Solving

Life is all about making decisions. From getting out of bed in the morning until you call it a day, we are constantly making choices and making decisions.

Whether it is your personal or professional life, you are often defined by your decisions.

Some of your decisions are mundane and almost automatic such as brushing your teeth and taking a bath, while some tasks require minor decision-making such as planning your daily schedule.

However, in a professional environment, decision-making skills can make all the difference as they can determine your growth and future career development. Depending on your role in an organization, your decisions can also impact other employees and even the overall image of the business.

When it comes to challenges and taking critical decisions, a lot of people shy away from taking responsibility. However, people with a decisive approach and a knack for taking well-measured and well-timed decisions are automatically regarded as leaders.

By honing your decision-making skills, you can create a strong bond with your colleagues and create a harmonious environment around you.

What is Decision-Making?

If we have to define decision-making in the context of the workplace, it is safe to say that management is nothing but a continuous process of decision-making. It is the responsibility of business managers to make operational decisions and ensure that their teams execute the tasks. In fact, the success of every manager depends largely on her decision-making skills.

The process of business planning depends on the art of decision-making. During the planning stage, managers need to make various decisions such as setting organizational goals. They decide on key products, marketing strategies, role assignments and timelines for every task.

In situations where the plans don’t deliver the desired outcome or are derailed due to external issues or lack of performance, it is the managers who need to bring things back on track by taking contingency decisions.

The charting of business plans is in effect great evidence of the importance of decision making. The care and research put in before taking a decision shape the impact it will make. Managers decide individual targets, team goals and various other rules and regulations related to the team’s functioning and conflict resolution, wherever needed.

Importance of decision-making

Iconic 20th-century management guru Peter F. Drucker said once, “Whatever a manager does, he does through making decisions.” That is exactly what we are talking about here.

It doesn’t matter whether you are working in a small company with less than 10 employees or in a large enterprise that has thousands of employees, things and situations always change. Over time, old practices, rules and personnel make space for new processes, especially in uncertain situations. However, these changed situations need people to make decisions.

The meaning of decision-making is strongly connected with management roles. Whether you create plans or organize discussions, give orders or advice, approve plans or reject them, every action involves decision-making. Thus, it can be considered an essential function of management.

If you work in a highly profitable enterprise, you will need to make a lot of critical decisions such as pricing a product, deciding which products to market, controlling production costs, advertising, capital investments, creating a policy for dividends and taking care of employee issues, among others.

Such decisions also need to be taken even by managers in government or social service enterprises where profit is not the criterion of success.

Decision-making and its importance in problem-solving

The importance of decision making lies in the way it helps you in choosing between various options. Before making a decision, there is a need to gather all available information and to weigh its pros and cons. It is crucial to focus on steps that can help in taking the right decisions.

There is a strong correlation between decision-making and problem-solving.

To further understand the importance of decision-making skills, let us take a look at the various ways in which decision-making can help solve problems:

Step-wise approach:.

Decision-making is not a random process. Before taking crucial decisions that can have a long-term impact on individual as well as organizational goals and performance, it is important to avoid various challenges.

Many times, we tend to get influenced by the majority opinion. Even if you feel that the group is not moving towards the right decision, you are scared of voicing your opinion due to the fear of isolation.

A systematic decision process ensures such erroneous situations are avoided.

Impact analysis:

By using the correct approaches and ethical decision-making processes, we can evaluate the impact of different choices. For instance, it is important to know whether a decision is long-term or temporary. We can assess the impact that a decision might have on people in the organization and whether they will feel happy about it or not.

Finding decision alternatives:

The decision-making process brings to fore skills such as probing and creativity. By using probing skills, you can gather more information about the various alternatives and creativity can help you in finding options that were previously not known.

Future forecasting:

The importance of decision making is amply seen in its ability to allow future forecasting. When we make a decision through a systematic process, we can calculate the likely impact of the decision on a business’s future growth.

Evaluating various options:

One of the characteristics of decision-making is that it is a fact-based process. Before making a decision, we gather all information about the various options and evaluate their feasibility and impact on the company’s present and future scenarios. This gives us the ability to make ethical decisions that are generally also the right decisions.

Risk assessment:

Strong decision-making skills are crucial in the risk assessment of decisions. They give us the ability to not only take the various options into account and weigh their pros and cons but also to assess the risk. By thoroughly evaluating all the options, market scenarios and past data, we can anticipate the chances of success and prepare for worst-case scenarios. Such a risk analysis comes handy for contingency planning as well as during any course corrections.

Impact on human resources:

Good decision-making can reap rich benefits for the organization. It can help foster a collaborative work environment and create clarity of communication among various stakeholders. By adopting group decision-making processes, it is possible to make different team members understand each other’s perspectives, strengths and weaknesses.

Leadership and emotional management:

Strong decision-making helps solve problems promptly and creates a leadership position for the decision-makers. Strong decisions should be impartial and devoid of any emotional influences that might make us overlook shortcomings. Such decision-making should also be transparent and logical.

These aspects of decision-making reduce stress and friction and increase cohesiveness as well as mutual understanding among team members and respect for the leaders.

Our daily life decisions give us opportunities to become better at what we do. Most of our decisions are made out of habit. However, by bringing our choices in the conscious domain, we can evaluate them, assess their impact and indulge in self-reflection. Such steps eventually lead to better decisions and outcomes.

Hence, it is very important to learn what is decision-making, and Harappa Education’s Making Decisions specially-curated course helps you learn the techniques of ethical decision-making. It has a section on the good decision process which will help you remove obstacles such as biases, peer pressure and lack of clarity that come in the path of good decision-making. Sign up for the course and start making smart decisions for success.

Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about the topic related to the Solve habit  –  Ethical Decision Making  in order to develop your  problem solving and decision making  skills.

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Mastering Decision-Making: Essential Skills for Success and Growth

Struggling to decide? Developing strong decision-making skills is essential for personal and professional success. It enables informed choices, calculated risks, and shaping our future. Learn its importance and practical tips in this article.

Mastering Decision-Making: Essential Skills for Success and Growth

Have you ever struggled to make decisions, constantly second-guessing yourself and feeling overwhelmed? Developing strong decision-making skills is essential for success in both personal and professional life.

Throughout our lives, we are faced with countless decisions, ranging from simple choices to life-altering ones. However, many people struggle with decision-making, often feeling unsure of themselves and afraid of making the wrong choice.

Effective decision-making skills are crucial for navigating life's challenges and achieving our goals. It allows us to make informed choices, take calculated risks, and ultimately shape our future. This article will explore the importance of decision-making skills and provide practical tips to help you improve and master this vital skill.

fieldengineer.com | Mastering Decision-Making: Essential Skills for Success and Growth

What Are Decision-Making Skills?

Decision-making skills are key for anyone in a role that requires problem-solving and decision-making.

Evaluating all options available before coming to a conclusion is an essential skill in today’s business world. Making informed, decisive decisions can make all the difference when striving to reach peak performance.

A great decision-maker utilizes methods of approaching a problem to help build quality decisions that don’t incorporate bias or bad judgment. Being able to speak with those affected or knowledgeable about the situation gives insight into how to go about making the right choice.

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to decision-making; this is why it’s key to have effective problem-solving skills along with being organized in order for make successful conclusions.

Overall, having strong decision-making skills allows you to excel professionally and personally because these traits are transferable in many situations, such as taking on new opportunities, managing people efficiently, delegating tasks, and ensuring resources are allocated properly.

It might sound intimidating at first, but that's why having strategies helping you navigate decisions confidently will benefit you throughout your decision journey while minimizing any foreseeable risks. That way, organizations will place trust in you because they know you can handle difficult tasks ahead of them while demonstrating the best-case scenario for everyone involved.

importance of problem solving and decision making skills

What Are the Types of Decision-Making Skills?

Good decision-making skills are a valuable asset in any workplace, regardless of a person's experience. Achieving successful outcomes requires the ability to weigh numerous factors and consider multiple points of view. Understanding the types of decision-making skills that come into play in a professional setting can be helpful for someone looking to show potential employers they have what it takes to succeed in their line of work.

Broadly speaking, there are three primary types of decision-making skills: analytical, situational leadership, and problem-solving.

Analytical thinking allows one to assess an issue from various angles and understand the facts before concluding.

Situational leadership involves people management; one must evaluate how team dynamics impact an outcome and recognize when resources need to be reallocated toward a solution.

Finally, problem-solving involves using available resources to create solutions that can address potential setbacks or unforeseen events. When employed successfully, each type helps contribute towards effective decision-making in a professional setting.

Importance of Decision-Making Skills?

Having the right decision-making skills can benefit an organization or group. Decisions made by a group leader can impact their followers greatly; thus, it is important to have the right decision-making skills.

Firstly, possessing good decision-making skills can be a great asset in problem-solving and handling situations. When faced with difficult scenarios, these skills help individuals recognize what is right and wrong and how different outcomes could pan out in the future.

With the ability to take calculated risks and make logical decisions accordingly, it would be easier for individuals to tackle complex problems of all sorts. Secondly, sound decision-making also gives rise to strong leadership qualities, which enable people in positions of power to determine certain paths for themselves or other team members.

With good decision-making abilities, leaders can show their staff that their direction has a meaningful purpose and a solid foundation. Additionally, this proves extremely useful as supervisors trust them more readily due to wise decision-making capabilities instead of relying on luck or superficial causes.

Employers value decision-making skills because they measure individuals' ability to make and stick to decisions. Senior members of a company need to make strategic decisions that can affect the success or failure of the organization.

Even those in lower positions will be expected to make some decisions on their own initiative. Decision-making abilities help create sound judgment.

importance of problem solving and decision making skills

How to Improve Decision-Making Skills

Steps involved in improving your decision-making skills:

Starting slow is a valuable tool that can help individuals make better decisions. It allows an individual to take the time to step back and consider all aspects and potential outcomes before choosing their best option.

Fast decisions can pay off in certain scenarios, but often people are too quick to rush into something without properly analyzing the situation.

By taking more time to review their choices and identify potential consequences, they can gather data that will ultimately help them make wiser decisions.

In addition to larger concerns, starting slow also applies to everyday decisions. In creating goals or making plans for the day/week/month, it is important to consider available information, such as facts, and calculate solutions from there.

Rather than just going for what feels right at a given moment, starting slow ensures one builds on supporting data that can lead them towards a decision that lasts in the long term. It also reduces stress since one has had more time to think through every factor and weigh up options for them to feel secure in their final decision.

Consider the Facts

Making quick decisions based on our assumptions can be tempting. However, this is not always the most effective way to lead or make decisions. It is important to take a step back and consider all the facts before making decisions.

Doing so allows us to understand our biases better and become more successful decision-makers.

We must take the time to research and learn the facts before making any important choices or determinations to prevent finding ourselves in a situation where we are blindly leaning toward a conclusion due to an assumption that may very well be incorrect.

Practicing gathering information and evaluating data teaches us how to differentiate between opinions and factual evidence so that we can invest our time and efforts into projects worth pursuing. To become better positioned for further long-term success, guide yourself with facts rather than assume you already know all there is to know.

Consider All Available/Alternative Options

When facing an important decision, it is always important to consider all your options before making a definitive choice. Taking the time to weigh different possibilities can help you make the best choice for yourself and any impacted stakeholders. Evaluating the pros and cons of each option is one effective way to prevent impulsive and possibly regretful decisions.

In almost every situation, if you take a step back and look at all potential solutions, you’ll often find an alternative that has more advantages than disadvantages.

Additionally, by intentionally taking time to assess each available outcome, you are more likely to be able to identify options that didn’t initially jump out as the top choice. It could even lead to finding a third option that combines elements from both or multiple alternatives! So no matter how big or small the decision may be, do not settle on just going with your first instinct - be sure to consider all of your options and those they may open up before making any monumental decisions in life.

Listen To Others

Listening to the perspectives of others is key when making an important decision. When we take the time to hear what others have to say, we can evaluate our options with more wisdom and insight. Even if someone’s opinion dramatically differs from our own, understanding and considering it provides a deeper understanding of how a particular decision could affect different people or outcomes differently.

By actively listening to the voices of those around us, we can see beyond the surface of any given situation and gain unique insights that may not have come up otherwise. This practice encourages open communication and creates an atmosphere where individuals are respected for their ideas and opinions.

Bringing varied viewpoints together can help us develop solutions that no single person would have been able to create alone. Listening is far more than what it appears on the surface – it is an essential skill for navigating life decisions with clarity and meaning.

Weigh the Pros and Cons

Weighing the pros and cons of any decision is key to making a smart choice. While gut instincts and intuition can provide shortcuts, being mindful of both the positive and negative outcomes helps ensure that any action chosen is toward a goal instead of simply in reaction to any given situation.

When envisioning the potential consequences of any decision, putting pen to paper and creating a mental list will help narrow your options. Writing down all of the pros and cons can also give you an overall understanding of how it might affect each party or situation involved. This way, when presented with multiple paths ahead, you have everything organized in order to make an informed decision moving forward.

For large-scale decisions concerning budgets or new initiatives, gaining insight from data-driven sources such as customer-buying behaviors or quarterly earning reports is an excellent strategy for ensuring success! Ultimately, data can equip us with valuable insight so that we have more control over the outcome of our choices.

Be Prepared To Change Your Mind

It is important to be prepared to change your mind when facing decisions. Life does not always go as planned; as such, it is important to be flexible with our options rather than being set in one frame of mind. We can make better decisions by actively considering new data and being willing to veer off traditional paths.

Looking at a decision with an open mind will help increase our chances of success in the workplace and beyond. We should not have an emotional attachment to one particular option; instead, we should consider the facts objectively and determine what would be the best course of action.

Regularly revisiting our decisions can enhance our abilities when making key decisions. We should also remain receptive to feedback from our peers to stay informed on the latest developments and changes in opinion or perspective throughout our industry or project.

Measure the Results

You must measure the results of any decision or action to see just how successful you have been. By taking a few moments to collect and evaluate data, you will be able to assess the benefits of your efforts and understand how successful it has been.

For example, if you decide to lower the price of a product, survey client satisfaction rates to gauge whether more customers purchased it as a result.

This feedback loop is essential when managing multiple activities within an organization. Evaluating the outcome provides valuable insight into which strategies had positive effects and allows you to alter future decisions for them to be even more successful.

Gaining this knowledge puts you one step ahead —you'll know exactly what works and what doesn't so you can quickly adjust course and pursue maximum impact. Data analysis is your key tool here— embrace it and use it wisely!

Example of Decision-Making?

Making decisions can be challenging, but a good example of how to do so effectively is deciding what to eat for dinner. To successfully decide on something to eat, the first step is recognizing and defining the problem.

This involves evaluating the food that is available and considering any dietary restrictions or preferences we are looking to meet. Once this has been identified, it’s time to start brainstorming alternative solutions.

Making a list of potential meals allows us to explore our options and evaluate which solution would best meet our needs. After comparing alternatives, we can select one solution and implement it in whatever manner necessary, such as cooking or ordering it from a restaurant.

Finally, once the final decision has been made, we have the opportunity to monitor and modify it if needed or desired by adding additional ingredients.

This decision-making process involves researching and collecting all relevant information to make an informed choice that will satisfy our needs and preferences.

By following such steps as recognizing and defining the problem, developing alternative solutions, selecting the best option, and modifying if necessary, anyone can make sound decisions regardless of their complexity or importance.

Ultimately, seeing such actions through until they are completed smoothly reflects your ability as an effective decision-maker.

How to Exhibit Your Decision-Making Skills in an Interview

Decision-making skills are essential for any employee in a position of responsibility. As leaders, we make decisions to benefit the organization and further its goals and objectives.

When looking for a job, highlighting your decision-making skills on your resume and during interviews can help you stand out and demonstrate to potential employers that you have the confidence and knowledge necessary to fill the role.

When thinking about how best to showcase your decision-making abilities, consider bringing up a situation in which you had to make an important decision or use creative problem-solving techniques to reach a solution.

Thinking of specific examples can also provide evidence that you have strong decision-making skills. Talk about why you made your decisions, what processes or considerations were taken into account, and how they affected the outcome for the organization or team.

It may also be useful to describe how different factors played into your decision-making so that employers know how well adept you are at navigating complex situations with care.

Doing all of this in an organized way will show employers that not only do you possess excellent decision-making skills but also demonstrate good communication ability--two essential qualities any employer would be lucky to have on their team.

Bottom Line

Making smart decisions in the workplace is an invaluable skill for any employee. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the facts and resources at play and an ability to think strategically and anticipate potential outcomes.

Good decision-making starts with gathering clear information about all possible solutions, then assessing the pros and cons of each solution before selecting the best one. When evaluating these solutions, it’s important to consider how they will align with the company’s objectives and budget.

Having strong decision-making skills often means being willing to take risks when necessary. By considering different options and outlining potential scenarios, it's easier to make informed and bold decisions that could result in long-term benefits for your team or employer.

Putting these skills into practice shows the employer that you can make sound decisions even under pressure, which will make you an attractive candidate when applying for roles or promotions in the future.

Ultimately, employers want employees who can use their own judgment and sense of responsibility to drive successful results - showcasing your decision-making abilities through concrete examples can give you the edge you need to stand out in a competitive market.

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How to improve your problem solving skills and build effective problem solving strategies

importance of problem solving and decision making skills

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Effective problem solving is all about using the right process and following a plan tailored to the issue at hand. Recognizing your team or organization has an issue isn’t enough to come up with effective problem solving strategies. 

To truly understand a problem and develop appropriate solutions, you will want to follow a solid process, follow the necessary problem solving steps, and bring all of your problem solving skills to the table.  

We’ll first guide you through the seven step problem solving process you and your team can use to effectively solve complex business challenges. We’ll also look at what problem solving strategies you can employ with your team when looking for a way to approach the process. We’ll then discuss the problem solving skills you need to be more effective at solving problems, complete with an activity from the SessionLab library you can use to develop that skill in your team.

Let’s get to it! 

What is a problem solving process?

  • What are the problem solving steps I need to follow?

Problem solving strategies

What skills do i need to be an effective problem solver, how can i improve my problem solving skills.

Solving problems is like baking a cake. You can go straight into the kitchen without a recipe or the right ingredients and do your best, but the end result is unlikely to be very tasty!

Using a process to bake a cake allows you to use the best ingredients without waste, collect the right tools, account for allergies, decide whether it is a birthday or wedding cake, and then bake efficiently and on time. The result is a better cake that is fit for purpose, tastes better and has created less mess in the kitchen. Also, it should have chocolate sprinkles. Having a step by step process to solve organizational problems allows you to go through each stage methodically and ensure you are trying to solve the right problems and select the most appropriate, effective solutions.

What are the problem solving steps I need to follow? 

All problem solving processes go through a number of steps in order to move from identifying a problem to resolving it.

Depending on your problem solving model and who you ask, there can be anything between four and nine problem solving steps you should follow in order to find the right solution. Whatever framework you and your group use, there are some key items that should be addressed in order to have an effective process.

We’ve looked at problem solving processes from sources such as the American Society for Quality and their four step approach , and Mediate ‘s six step process. By reflecting on those and our own problem solving processes, we’ve come up with a sequence of seven problem solving steps we feel best covers everything you need in order to effectively solve problems.

seven step problem solving process

1. Problem identification 

The first stage of any problem solving process is to identify the problem or problems you might want to solve. Effective problem solving strategies always begin by allowing a group scope to articulate what they believe the problem to be and then coming to some consensus over which problem they approach first. Problem solving activities used at this stage often have a focus on creating frank, open discussion so that potential problems can be brought to the surface.

2. Problem analysis 

Though this step is not a million miles from problem identification, problem analysis deserves to be considered separately. It can often be an overlooked part of the process and is instrumental when it comes to developing effective solutions.

The process of problem analysis means ensuring that the problem you are seeking to solve is the right problem . As part of this stage, you may look deeper and try to find the root cause of a specific problem at a team or organizational level.

Remember that problem solving strategies should not only be focused on putting out fires in the short term but developing long term solutions that deal with the root cause of organizational challenges. 

Whatever your approach, analyzing a problem is crucial in being able to select an appropriate solution and the problem solving skills deployed in this stage are beneficial for the rest of the process and ensuring the solutions you create are fit for purpose.

3. Solution generation

Once your group has nailed down the particulars of the problem you wish to solve, you want to encourage a free flow of ideas connecting to solving that problem. This can take the form of problem solving games that encourage creative thinking or problem solving activities designed to produce working prototypes of possible solutions. 

The key to ensuring the success of this stage of the problem solving process is to encourage quick, creative thinking and create an open space where all ideas are considered. The best solutions can come from unlikely places and by using problem solving techniques that celebrate invention, you might come up with solution gold. 

4. Solution development

No solution is likely to be perfect right out of the gate. It’s important to discuss and develop the solutions your group has come up with over the course of following the previous problem solving steps in order to arrive at the best possible solution. Problem solving games used in this stage involve lots of critical thinking, measuring potential effort and impact, and looking at possible solutions analytically. 

During this stage, you will often ask your team to iterate and improve upon your frontrunning solutions and develop them further. Remember that problem solving strategies always benefit from a multitude of voices and opinions, and not to let ego get involved when it comes to choosing which solutions to develop and take further.

Finding the best solution is the goal of all problem solving workshops and here is the place to ensure that your solution is well thought out, sufficiently robust and fit for purpose. 

5. Decision making 

Nearly there! Once your group has reached consensus and selected a solution that applies to the problem at hand you have some decisions to make. You will want to work on allocating ownership of the project, figure out who will do what, how the success of the solution will be measured and decide the next course of action.

The decision making stage is a part of the problem solving process that can get missed or taken as for granted. Fail to properly allocate roles and plan out how a solution will actually be implemented and it less likely to be successful in solving the problem.

Have clear accountabilities, actions, timeframes, and follow-ups. Make these decisions and set clear next-steps in the problem solving workshop so that everyone is aligned and you can move forward effectively as a group. 

Ensuring that you plan for the roll-out of a solution is one of the most important problem solving steps. Without adequate planning or oversight, it can prove impossible to measure success or iterate further if the problem was not solved. 

6. Solution implementation 

This is what we were waiting for! All problem solving strategies have the end goal of implementing a solution and solving a problem in mind. 

Remember that in order for any solution to be successful, you need to help your group through all of the previous problem solving steps thoughtfully. Only then can you ensure that you are solving the right problem but also that you have developed the correct solution and can then successfully implement and measure the impact of that solution.

Project management and communication skills are key here – your solution may need to adjust when out in the wild or you might discover new challenges along the way.

7. Solution evaluation 

So you and your team developed a great solution to a problem and have a gut feeling its been solved. Work done, right? Wrong. All problem solving strategies benefit from evaluation, consideration, and feedback. You might find that the solution does not work for everyone, might create new problems, or is potentially so successful that you will want to roll it out to larger teams or as part of other initiatives. 

None of that is possible without taking the time to evaluate the success of the solution you developed in your problem solving model and adjust if necessary.

Remember that the problem solving process is often iterative and it can be common to not solve complex issues on the first try. Even when this is the case, you and your team will have generated learning that will be important for future problem solving workshops or in other parts of the organization. 

It’s worth underlining how important record keeping is throughout the problem solving process. If a solution didn’t work, you need to have the data and records to see why that was the case. If you go back to the drawing board, notes from the previous workshop can help save time. Data and insight is invaluable at every stage of the problem solving process and this one is no different.

Problem solving workshops made easy

importance of problem solving and decision making skills

Problem solving strategies are methods of approaching and facilitating the process of problem-solving with a set of techniques , actions, and processes. Different strategies are more effective if you are trying to solve broad problems such as achieving higher growth versus more focused problems like, how do we improve our customer onboarding process?

Broadly, the problem solving steps outlined above should be included in any problem solving strategy though choosing where to focus your time and what approaches should be taken is where they begin to differ. You might find that some strategies ask for the problem identification to be done prior to the session or that everything happens in the course of a one day workshop.

The key similarity is that all good problem solving strategies are structured and designed. Four hours of open discussion is never going to be as productive as a four-hour workshop designed to lead a group through a problem solving process.

Good problem solving strategies are tailored to the team, organization and problem you will be attempting to solve. Here are some example problem solving strategies you can learn from or use to get started.

Use a workshop to lead a team through a group process

Often, the first step to solving problems or organizational challenges is bringing a group together effectively. Most teams have the tools, knowledge, and expertise necessary to solve their challenges – they just need some guidance in how to use leverage those skills and a structure and format that allows people to focus their energies.

Facilitated workshops are one of the most effective ways of solving problems of any scale. By designing and planning your workshop carefully, you can tailor the approach and scope to best fit the needs of your team and organization. 

Problem solving workshop

  • Creating a bespoke, tailored process
  • Tackling problems of any size
  • Building in-house workshop ability and encouraging their use

Workshops are an effective strategy for solving problems. By using tried and test facilitation techniques and methods, you can design and deliver a workshop that is perfectly suited to the unique variables of your organization. You may only have the capacity for a half-day workshop and so need a problem solving process to match. 

By using our session planner tool and importing methods from our library of 700+ facilitation techniques, you can create the right problem solving workshop for your team. It might be that you want to encourage creative thinking or look at things from a new angle to unblock your groups approach to problem solving. By tailoring your workshop design to the purpose, you can help ensure great results.

One of the main benefits of a workshop is the structured approach to problem solving. Not only does this mean that the workshop itself will be successful, but many of the methods and techniques will help your team improve their working processes outside of the workshop. 

We believe that workshops are one of the best tools you can use to improve the way your team works together. Start with a problem solving workshop and then see what team building, culture or design workshops can do for your organization!

Run a design sprint

Great for: 

  • aligning large, multi-discipline teams
  • quickly designing and testing solutions
  • tackling large, complex organizational challenges and breaking them down into smaller tasks

By using design thinking principles and methods, a design sprint is a great way of identifying, prioritizing and prototyping solutions to long term challenges that can help solve major organizational problems with quick action and measurable results.

Some familiarity with design thinking is useful, though not integral, and this strategy can really help a team align if there is some discussion around which problems should be approached first. 

The stage-based structure of the design sprint is also very useful for teams new to design thinking.  The inspiration phase, where you look to competitors that have solved your problem, and the rapid prototyping and testing phases are great for introducing new concepts that will benefit a team in all their future work. 

It can be common for teams to look inward for solutions and so looking to the market for solutions you can iterate on can be very productive. Instilling an agile prototyping and testing mindset can also be great when helping teams move forwards – generating and testing solutions quickly can help save time in the long run and is also pretty exciting!

Break problems down into smaller issues

Organizational challenges and problems are often complicated and large scale in nature. Sometimes, trying to resolve such an issue in one swoop is simply unachievable or overwhelming. Try breaking down such problems into smaller issues that you can work on step by step. You may not be able to solve the problem of churning customers off the bat, but you can work with your team to identify smaller effort but high impact elements and work on those first.

This problem solving strategy can help a team generate momentum, prioritize and get some easy wins. It’s also a great strategy to employ with teams who are just beginning to learn how to approach the problem solving process. If you want some insight into a way to employ this strategy, we recommend looking at our design sprint template below!

Use guiding frameworks or try new methodologies

Some problems are best solved by introducing a major shift in perspective or by using new methodologies that encourage your team to think differently.

Props and tools such as Methodkit , which uses a card-based toolkit for facilitation, or Lego Serious Play can be great ways to engage your team and find an inclusive, democratic problem solving strategy. Remember that play and creativity are great tools for achieving change and whatever the challenge, engaging your participants can be very effective where other strategies may have failed.

LEGO Serious Play

  • Improving core problem solving skills
  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Encouraging creative solutions

LEGO Serious Play is a problem solving methodology designed to get participants thinking differently by using 3D models and kinesthetic learning styles. By physically building LEGO models based on questions and exercises, participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and create their own responses. 

Collaborate LEGO Serious Play exercises are also used to encourage communication and build problem solving skills in a group. By using this problem solving process, you can often help different kinds of learners and personality types contribute and unblock organizational problems with creative thinking. 

Problem solving strategies like LEGO Serious Play are super effective at helping a team solve more skills-based problems such as communication between teams or a lack of creative thinking. Some problems are not suited to LEGO Serious Play and require a different problem solving strategy.

Card Decks and Method Kits

  • New facilitators or non-facilitators 
  • Approaching difficult subjects with a simple, creative framework
  • Engaging those with varied learning styles

Card decks and method kids are great tools for those new to facilitation or for whom facilitation is not the primary role. Card decks such as the emotional culture deck can be used for complete workshops and in many cases, can be used right out of the box. Methodkit has a variety of kits designed for scenarios ranging from personal development through to personas and global challenges so you can find the right deck for your particular needs.

Having an easy to use framework that encourages creativity or a new approach can take some of the friction or planning difficulties out of the workshop process and energize a team in any setting. Simplicity is the key with these methods. By ensuring everyone on your team can get involved and engage with the process as quickly as possible can really contribute to the success of your problem solving strategy.

Source external advice

Looking to peers, experts and external facilitators can be a great way of approaching the problem solving process. Your team may not have the necessary expertise, insights of experience to tackle some issues, or you might simply benefit from a fresh perspective. Some problems may require bringing together an entire team, and coaching managers or team members individually might be the right approach. Remember that not all problems are best resolved in the same manner.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur, peer groups, coaches and mentors can also be invaluable at not only solving specific business problems, but in providing a support network for resolving future challenges. One great approach is to join a Mastermind Group and link up with like-minded individuals and all grow together. Remember that however you approach the sourcing of external advice, do so thoughtfully, respectfully and honestly. Reciprocate where you can and prepare to be surprised by just how kind and helpful your peers can be!

Mastermind Group

  • Solo entrepreneurs or small teams with low capacity
  • Peer learning and gaining outside expertise
  • Getting multiple external points of view quickly

Problem solving in large organizations with lots of skilled team members is one thing, but how about if you work for yourself or in a very small team without the capacity to get the most from a design sprint or LEGO Serious Play session? 

A mastermind group – sometimes known as a peer advisory board – is where a group of people come together to support one another in their own goals, challenges, and businesses. Each participant comes to the group with their own purpose and the other members of the group will help them create solutions, brainstorm ideas, and support one another. 

Mastermind groups are very effective in creating an energized, supportive atmosphere that can deliver meaningful results. Learning from peers from outside of your organization or industry can really help unlock new ways of thinking and drive growth. Access to the experience and skills of your peers can be invaluable in helping fill the gaps in your own ability, particularly in young companies.

A mastermind group is a great solution for solo entrepreneurs, small teams, or for organizations that feel that external expertise or fresh perspectives will be beneficial for them. It is worth noting that Mastermind groups are often only as good as the participants and what they can bring to the group. Participants need to be committed, engaged and understand how to work in this context. 

Coaching and mentoring

  • Focused learning and development
  • Filling skills gaps
  • Working on a range of challenges over time

Receiving advice from a business coach or building a mentor/mentee relationship can be an effective way of resolving certain challenges. The one-to-one format of most coaching and mentor relationships can really help solve the challenges those individuals are having and benefit the organization as a result.

A great mentor can be invaluable when it comes to spotting potential problems before they arise and coming to understand a mentee very well has a host of other business benefits. You might run an internal mentorship program to help develop your team’s problem solving skills and strategies or as part of a large learning and development program. External coaches can also be an important part of your problem solving strategy, filling skills gaps for your management team or helping with specific business issues. 

Now we’ve explored the problem solving process and the steps you will want to go through in order to have an effective session, let’s look at the skills you and your team need to be more effective problem solvers.

Problem solving skills are highly sought after, whatever industry or team you work in. Organizations are keen to employ people who are able to approach problems thoughtfully and find strong, realistic solutions. Whether you are a facilitator , a team leader or a developer, being an effective problem solver is a skill you’ll want to develop.

Problem solving skills form a whole suite of techniques and approaches that an individual uses to not only identify problems but to discuss them productively before then developing appropriate solutions.

Here are some of the most important problem solving skills everyone from executives to junior staff members should learn. We’ve also included an activity or exercise from the SessionLab library that can help you and your team develop that skill. 

If you’re running a workshop or training session to try and improve problem solving skills in your team, try using these methods to supercharge your process!

Problem solving skills checklist

Active listening

Active listening is one of the most important skills anyone who works with people can possess. In short, active listening is a technique used to not only better understand what is being said by an individual, but also to be more aware of the underlying message the speaker is trying to convey. When it comes to problem solving, active listening is integral for understanding the position of every participant and to clarify the challenges, ideas and solutions they bring to the table.

Some active listening skills include:

  • Paying complete attention to the speaker.
  • Removing distractions.
  • Avoid interruption.
  • Taking the time to fully understand before preparing a rebuttal.
  • Responding respectfully and appropriately.
  • Demonstrate attentiveness and positivity with an open posture, making eye contact with the speaker, smiling and nodding if appropriate. Show that you are listening and encourage them to continue.
  • Be aware of and respectful of feelings. Judge the situation and respond appropriately. You can disagree without being disrespectful.   
  • Observe body language. 
  • Paraphrase what was said in your own words, either mentally or verbally.
  • Remain neutral. 
  • Reflect and take a moment before responding.
  • Ask deeper questions based on what is said and clarify points where necessary.   
Active Listening   #hyperisland   #skills   #active listening   #remote-friendly   This activity supports participants to reflect on a question and generate their own solutions using simple principles of active listening and peer coaching. It’s an excellent introduction to active listening but can also be used with groups that are already familiar with it. Participants work in groups of three and take turns being: “the subject”, the listener, and the observer.

Analytical skills

All problem solving models require strong analytical skills, particularly during the beginning of the process and when it comes to analyzing how solutions have performed.

Analytical skills are primarily focused on performing an effective analysis by collecting, studying and parsing data related to a problem or opportunity. 

It often involves spotting patterns, being able to see things from different perspectives and using observable facts and data to make suggestions or produce insight. 

Analytical skills are also important at every stage of the problem solving process and by having these skills, you can ensure that any ideas or solutions you create or backed up analytically and have been sufficiently thought out.

Nine Whys   #innovation   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   With breathtaking simplicity, you can rapidly clarify for individuals and a group what is essentially important in their work. You can quickly reveal when a compelling purpose is missing in a gathering and avoid moving forward without clarity. When a group discovers an unambiguous shared purpose, more freedom and more responsibility are unleashed. You have laid the foundation for spreading and scaling innovations with fidelity.

Collaboration

Trying to solve problems on your own is difficult. Being able to collaborate effectively, with a free exchange of ideas, to delegate and be a productive member of a team is hugely important to all problem solving strategies.

Remember that whatever your role, collaboration is integral, and in a problem solving process, you are all working together to find the best solution for everyone. 

Marshmallow challenge with debriefing   #teamwork   #team   #leadership   #collaboration   In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top. The Marshmallow Challenge was developed by Tom Wujec, who has done the activity with hundreds of groups around the world. Visit the Marshmallow Challenge website for more information. This version has an extra debriefing question added with sample questions focusing on roles within the team.

Communication  

Being an effective communicator means being empathetic, clear and succinct, asking the right questions, and demonstrating active listening skills throughout any discussion or meeting. 

In a problem solving setting, you need to communicate well in order to progress through each stage of the process effectively. As a team leader, it may also fall to you to facilitate communication between parties who may not see eye to eye. Effective communication also means helping others to express themselves and be heard in a group.

Bus Trip   #feedback   #communication   #appreciation   #closing   #thiagi   #team   This is one of my favourite feedback games. I use Bus Trip at the end of a training session or a meeting, and I use it all the time. The game creates a massive amount of energy with lots of smiles, laughs, and sometimes even a teardrop or two.

Creative problem solving skills can be some of the best tools in your arsenal. Thinking creatively, being able to generate lots of ideas and come up with out of the box solutions is useful at every step of the process. 

The kinds of problems you will likely discuss in a problem solving workshop are often difficult to solve, and by approaching things in a fresh, creative manner, you can often create more innovative solutions.

Having practical creative skills is also a boon when it comes to problem solving. If you can help create quality design sketches and prototypes in record time, it can help bring a team to alignment more quickly or provide a base for further iteration.

The paper clip method   #sharing   #creativity   #warm up   #idea generation   #brainstorming   The power of brainstorming. A training for project leaders, creativity training, and to catalyse getting new solutions.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is one of the fundamental problem solving skills you’ll want to develop when working on developing solutions. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, rationalize and evaluate while being aware of personal bias, outlying factors and remaining open-minded.

Defining and analyzing problems without deploying critical thinking skills can mean you and your team go down the wrong path. Developing solutions to complex issues requires critical thinking too – ensuring your team considers all possibilities and rationally evaluating them. 

Agreement-Certainty Matrix   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   #problem solving   You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic .  A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate.  It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably.  A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail.  Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward.  A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Data analysis 

Though it shares lots of space with general analytical skills, data analysis skills are something you want to cultivate in their own right in order to be an effective problem solver.

Being good at data analysis doesn’t just mean being able to find insights from data, but also selecting the appropriate data for a given issue, interpreting it effectively and knowing how to model and present that data. Depending on the problem at hand, it might also include a working knowledge of specific data analysis tools and procedures. 

Having a solid grasp of data analysis techniques is useful if you’re leading a problem solving workshop but if you’re not an expert, don’t worry. Bring people into the group who has this skill set and help your team be more effective as a result.

Decision making

All problems need a solution and all solutions require that someone make the decision to implement them. Without strong decision making skills, teams can become bogged down in discussion and less effective as a result. 

Making decisions is a key part of the problem solving process. It’s important to remember that decision making is not restricted to the leadership team. Every staff member makes decisions every day and developing these skills ensures that your team is able to solve problems at any scale. Remember that making decisions does not mean leaping to the first solution but weighing up the options and coming to an informed, well thought out solution to any given problem that works for the whole team.

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)   #action   #decision making   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #innovation   #design   #remote-friendly   The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow

Dependability

Most complex organizational problems require multiple people to be involved in delivering the solution. Ensuring that the team and organization can depend on you to take the necessary actions and communicate where necessary is key to ensuring problems are solved effectively.

Being dependable also means working to deadlines and to brief. It is often a matter of creating trust in a team so that everyone can depend on one another to complete the agreed actions in the agreed time frame so that the team can move forward together. Being undependable can create problems of friction and can limit the effectiveness of your solutions so be sure to bear this in mind throughout a project. 

Team Purpose & Culture   #team   #hyperisland   #culture   #remote-friendly   This is an essential process designed to help teams define their purpose (why they exist) and their culture (how they work together to achieve that purpose). Defining these two things will help any team to be more focused and aligned. With support of tangible examples from other companies, the team members work as individuals and a group to codify the way they work together. The goal is a visual manifestation of both the purpose and culture that can be put up in the team’s work space.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important skill for any successful team member, whether communicating internally or with clients or users. In the problem solving process, emotional intelligence means being attuned to how people are feeling and thinking, communicating effectively and being self-aware of what you bring to a room. 

There are often differences of opinion when working through problem solving processes, and it can be easy to let things become impassioned or combative. Developing your emotional intelligence means being empathetic to your colleagues and managing your own emotions throughout the problem and solution process. Be kind, be thoughtful and put your points across care and attention. 

Being emotionally intelligent is a skill for life and by deploying it at work, you can not only work efficiently but empathetically. Check out the emotional culture workshop template for more!

Facilitation

As we’ve clarified in our facilitation skills post, facilitation is the art of leading people through processes towards agreed-upon objectives in a manner that encourages participation, ownership, and creativity by all those involved. While facilitation is a set of interrelated skills in itself, the broad definition of facilitation can be invaluable when it comes to problem solving. Leading a team through a problem solving process is made more effective if you improve and utilize facilitation skills – whether you’re a manager, team leader or external stakeholder.

The Six Thinking Hats   #creative thinking   #meeting facilitation   #problem solving   #issue resolution   #idea generation   #conflict resolution   The Six Thinking Hats are used by individuals and groups to separate out conflicting styles of thinking. They enable and encourage a group of people to think constructively together in exploring and implementing change, rather than using argument to fight over who is right and who is wrong.

Flexibility 

Being flexible is a vital skill when it comes to problem solving. This does not mean immediately bowing to pressure or changing your opinion quickly: instead, being flexible is all about seeing things from new perspectives, receiving new information and factoring it into your thought process.

Flexibility is also important when it comes to rolling out solutions. It might be that other organizational projects have greater priority or require the same resources as your chosen solution. Being flexible means understanding needs and challenges across the team and being open to shifting or arranging your own schedule as necessary. Again, this does not mean immediately making way for other projects. It’s about articulating your own needs, understanding the needs of others and being able to come to a meaningful compromise.

The Creativity Dice   #creativity   #problem solving   #thiagi   #issue analysis   Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

Working in any group can lead to unconscious elements of groupthink or situations in which you may not wish to be entirely honest. Disagreeing with the opinions of the executive team or wishing to save the feelings of a coworker can be tricky to navigate, but being honest is absolutely vital when to comes to developing effective solutions and ensuring your voice is heard. 

Remember that being honest does not mean being brutally candid. You can deliver your honest feedback and opinions thoughtfully and without creating friction by using other skills such as emotional intelligence. 

Explore your Values   #hyperisland   #skills   #values   #remote-friendly   Your Values is an exercise for participants to explore what their most important values are. It’s done in an intuitive and rapid way to encourage participants to follow their intuitive feeling rather than over-thinking and finding the “correct” values. It is a good exercise to use to initiate reflection and dialogue around personal values.

Initiative 

The problem solving process is multi-faceted and requires different approaches at certain points of the process. Taking initiative to bring problems to the attention of the team, collect data or lead the solution creating process is always valuable. You might even roadtest your own small scale solutions or brainstorm before a session. Taking initiative is particularly effective if you have good deal of knowledge in that area or have ownership of a particular project and want to get things kickstarted.

That said, be sure to remember to honor the process and work in service of the team. If you are asked to own one part of the problem solving process and you don’t complete that task because your initiative leads you to work on something else, that’s not an effective method of solving business challenges.

15% Solutions   #action   #liberating structures   #remote-friendly   You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.  15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.  With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.

Impartiality

A particularly useful problem solving skill for product owners or managers is the ability to remain impartial throughout much of the process. In practice, this means treating all points of view and ideas brought forward in a meeting equally and ensuring that your own areas of interest or ownership are not favored over others. 

There may be a stage in the process where a decision maker has to weigh the cost and ROI of possible solutions against the company roadmap though even then, ensuring that the decision made is based on merit and not personal opinion. 

Empathy map   #frame insights   #create   #design   #issue analysis   An empathy map is a tool to help a design team to empathize with the people they are designing for. You can make an empathy map for a group of people or for a persona. To be used after doing personas when more insights are needed.

Being a good leader means getting a team aligned, energized and focused around a common goal. In the problem solving process, strong leadership helps ensure that the process is efficient, that any conflicts are resolved and that a team is managed in the direction of success.

It’s common for managers or executives to assume this role in a problem solving workshop, though it’s important that the leader maintains impartiality and does not bulldoze the group in a particular direction. Remember that good leadership means working in service of the purpose and team and ensuring the workshop is a safe space for employees of any level to contribute. Take a look at our leadership games and activities post for more exercises and methods to help improve leadership in your organization.

Leadership Pizza   #leadership   #team   #remote-friendly   This leadership development activity offers a self-assessment framework for people to first identify what skills, attributes and attitudes they find important for effective leadership, and then assess their own development and initiate goal setting.

In the context of problem solving, mediation is important in keeping a team engaged, happy and free of conflict. When leading or facilitating a problem solving workshop, you are likely to run into differences of opinion. Depending on the nature of the problem, certain issues may be brought up that are emotive in nature. 

Being an effective mediator means helping those people on either side of such a divide are heard, listen to one another and encouraged to find common ground and a resolution. Mediating skills are useful for leaders and managers in many situations and the problem solving process is no different.

Conflict Responses   #hyperisland   #team   #issue resolution   A workshop for a team to reflect on past conflicts, and use them to generate guidelines for effective conflict handling. The workshop uses the Thomas-Killman model of conflict responses to frame a reflective discussion. Use it to open up a discussion around conflict with a team.

Planning 

Solving organizational problems is much more effective when following a process or problem solving model. Planning skills are vital in order to structure, deliver and follow-through on a problem solving workshop and ensure your solutions are intelligently deployed.

Planning skills include the ability to organize tasks and a team, plan and design the process and take into account any potential challenges. Taking the time to plan carefully can save time and frustration later in the process and is valuable for ensuring a team is positioned for success.

3 Action Steps   #hyperisland   #action   #remote-friendly   This is a small-scale strategic planning session that helps groups and individuals to take action toward a desired change. It is often used at the end of a workshop or programme. The group discusses and agrees on a vision, then creates some action steps that will lead them towards that vision. The scope of the challenge is also defined, through discussion of the helpful and harmful factors influencing the group.

Prioritization

As organisations grow, the scale and variation of problems they face multiplies. Your team or is likely to face numerous challenges in different areas and so having the skills to analyze and prioritize becomes very important, particularly for those in leadership roles.

A thorough problem solving process is likely to deliver multiple solutions and you may have several different problems you wish to solve simultaneously. Prioritization is the ability to measure the importance, value, and effectiveness of those possible solutions and choose which to enact and in what order. The process of prioritization is integral in ensuring the biggest challenges are addressed with the most impactful solutions.

Impact and Effort Matrix   #gamestorming   #decision making   #action   #remote-friendly   In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

Project management

Some problem solving skills are utilized in a workshop or ideation phases, while others come in useful when it comes to decision making. Overseeing an entire problem solving process and ensuring its success requires strong project management skills. 

While project management incorporates many of the other skills listed here, it is important to note the distinction of considering all of the factors of a project and managing them successfully. Being able to negotiate with stakeholders, manage tasks, time and people, consider costs and ROI, and tie everything together is massively helpful when going through the problem solving process. 

Record keeping

Working out meaningful solutions to organizational challenges is only one part of the process.  Thoughtfully documenting and keeping records of each problem solving step for future consultation is important in ensuring efficiency and meaningful change. 

For example, some problems may be lower priority than others but can be revisited in the future. If the team has ideated on solutions and found some are not up to the task, record those so you can rule them out and avoiding repeating work. Keeping records of the process also helps you improve and refine your problem solving model next time around!

Personal Kanban   #gamestorming   #action   #agile   #project planning   Personal Kanban is a tool for organizing your work to be more efficient and productive. It is based on agile methods and principles.

Research skills

Conducting research to support both the identification of problems and the development of appropriate solutions is important for an effective process. Knowing where to go to collect research, how to conduct research efficiently, and identifying pieces of research are relevant are all things a good researcher can do well. 

In larger groups, not everyone has to demonstrate this ability in order for a problem solving workshop to be effective. That said, having people with research skills involved in the process, particularly if they have existing area knowledge, can help ensure the solutions that are developed with data that supports their intention. Remember that being able to deliver the results of research efficiently and in a way the team can easily understand is also important. The best data in the world is only as effective as how it is delivered and interpreted.

Customer experience map   #ideation   #concepts   #research   #design   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   Customer experience mapping is a method of documenting and visualizing the experience a customer has as they use the product or service. It also maps out their responses to their experiences. To be used when there is a solution (even in a conceptual stage) that can be analyzed.

Risk management

Managing risk is an often overlooked part of the problem solving process. Solutions are often developed with the intention of reducing exposure to risk or solving issues that create risk but sometimes, great solutions are more experimental in nature and as such, deploying them needs to be carefully considered. 

Managing risk means acknowledging that there may be risks associated with more out of the box solutions or trying new things, but that this must be measured against the possible benefits and other organizational factors. 

Be informed, get the right data and stakeholders in the room and you can appropriately factor risk into your decision making process. 

Decisions, Decisions…   #communication   #decision making   #thiagi   #action   #issue analysis   When it comes to decision-making, why are some of us more prone to take risks while others are risk-averse? One explanation might be the way the decision and options were presented.  This exercise, based on Kahneman and Tversky’s classic study , illustrates how the framing effect influences our judgement and our ability to make decisions . The participants are divided into two groups. Both groups are presented with the same problem and two alternative programs for solving them. The two programs both have the same consequences but are presented differently. The debriefing discussion examines how the framing of the program impacted the participant’s decision.

Team-building 

No single person is as good at problem solving as a team. Building an effective team and helping them come together around a common purpose is one of the most important problem solving skills, doubly so for leaders. By bringing a team together and helping them work efficiently, you pave the way for team ownership of a problem and the development of effective solutions. 

In a problem solving workshop, it can be tempting to jump right into the deep end, though taking the time to break the ice, energize the team and align them with a game or exercise will pay off over the course of the day.

Remember that you will likely go through the problem solving process multiple times over an organization’s lifespan and building a strong team culture will make future problem solving more effective. It’s also great to work with people you know, trust and have fun with. Working on team building in and out of the problem solving process is a hallmark of successful teams that can work together to solve business problems.

9 Dimensions Team Building Activity   #ice breaker   #teambuilding   #team   #remote-friendly   9 Dimensions is a powerful activity designed to build relationships and trust among team members. There are 2 variations of this icebreaker. The first version is for teams who want to get to know each other better. The second version is for teams who want to explore how they are working together as a team.

Time management 

The problem solving process is designed to lead a team from identifying a problem through to delivering a solution and evaluating its effectiveness. Without effective time management skills or timeboxing of tasks, it can be easy for a team to get bogged down or be inefficient.

By using a problem solving model and carefully designing your workshop, you can allocate time efficiently and trust that the process will deliver the results you need in a good timeframe.

Time management also comes into play when it comes to rolling out solutions, particularly those that are experimental in nature. Having a clear timeframe for implementing and evaluating solutions is vital for ensuring their success and being able to pivot if necessary.

Improving your skills at problem solving is often a career-long pursuit though there are methods you can use to make the learning process more efficient and to supercharge your problem solving skillset.

Remember that the skills you need to be a great problem solver have a large overlap with those skills you need to be effective in any role. Investing time and effort to develop your active listening or critical thinking skills is valuable in any context. Here are 7 ways to improve your problem solving skills.

Share best practices

Remember that your team is an excellent source of skills, wisdom, and techniques and that you should all take advantage of one another where possible. Best practices that one team has for solving problems, conducting research or making decisions should be shared across the organization. If you have in-house staff that have done active listening training or are data analysis pros, have them lead a training session. 

Your team is one of your best resources. Create space and internal processes for the sharing of skills so that you can all grow together. 

Ask for help and attend training

Once you’ve figured out you have a skills gap, the next step is to take action to fill that skills gap. That might be by asking your superior for training or coaching, or liaising with team members with that skill set. You might even attend specialized training for certain skills – active listening or critical thinking, for example, are business-critical skills that are regularly offered as part of a training scheme.

Whatever method you choose, remember that taking action of some description is necessary for growth. Whether that means practicing, getting help, attending training or doing some background reading, taking active steps to improve your skills is the way to go.

Learn a process 

Problem solving can be complicated, particularly when attempting to solve large problems for the first time. Using a problem solving process helps give structure to your problem solving efforts and focus on creating outcomes, rather than worrying about the format. 

Tools such as the seven-step problem solving process above are effective because not only do they feature steps that will help a team solve problems, they also develop skills along the way. Each step asks for people to engage with the process using different skills and in doing so, helps the team learn and grow together. Group processes of varying complexity and purpose can also be found in the SessionLab library of facilitation techniques . Using a tried and tested process and really help ease the learning curve for both those leading such a process, as well as those undergoing the purpose.

Effective teams make decisions about where they should and shouldn’t expend additional effort. By using a problem solving process, you can focus on the things that matter, rather than stumbling towards a solution haphazardly. 

Create a feedback loop

Some skills gaps are more obvious than others. It’s possible that your perception of your active listening skills differs from those of your colleagues. 

It’s valuable to create a system where team members can provide feedback in an ordered and friendly manner so they can all learn from one another. Only by identifying areas of improvement can you then work to improve them. 

Remember that feedback systems require oversight and consideration so that they don’t turn into a place to complain about colleagues. Design the system intelligently so that you encourage the creation of learning opportunities, rather than encouraging people to list their pet peeves.

While practice might not make perfect, it does make the problem solving process easier. If you are having trouble with critical thinking, don’t shy away from doing it. Get involved where you can and stretch those muscles as regularly as possible. 

Problem solving skills come more naturally to some than to others and that’s okay. Take opportunities to get involved and see where you can practice your skills in situations outside of a workshop context. Try collaborating in other circumstances at work or conduct data analysis on your own projects. You can often develop those skills you need for problem solving simply by doing them. Get involved!

Use expert exercises and methods

Learn from the best. Our library of 700+ facilitation techniques is full of activities and methods that help develop the skills you need to be an effective problem solver. Check out our templates to see how to approach problem solving and other organizational challenges in a structured and intelligent manner.

There is no single approach to improving problem solving skills, but by using the techniques employed by others you can learn from their example and develop processes that have seen proven results. 

Try new ways of thinking and change your mindset

Using tried and tested exercises that you know well can help deliver results, but you do run the risk of missing out on the learning opportunities offered by new approaches. As with the problem solving process, changing your mindset can remove blockages and be used to develop your problem solving skills.

Most teams have members with mixed skill sets and specialties. Mix people from different teams and share skills and different points of view. Teach your customer support team how to use design thinking methods or help your developers with conflict resolution techniques. Try switching perspectives with facilitation techniques like Flip It! or by using new problem solving methodologies or models. Give design thinking, liberating structures or lego serious play a try if you want to try a new approach. You will find that framing problems in new ways and using existing skills in new contexts can be hugely useful for personal development and improving your skillset. It’s also a lot of fun to try new things. Give it a go!

Encountering business challenges and needing to find appropriate solutions is not unique to your organization. Lots of very smart people have developed methods, theories and approaches to help develop problem solving skills and create effective solutions. Learn from them!

Books like The Art of Thinking Clearly , Think Smarter, or Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow are great places to start, though it’s also worth looking at blogs related to organizations facing similar problems to yours, or browsing for success stories. Seeing how Dropbox massively increased growth and working backward can help you see the skills or approach you might be lacking to solve that same problem. Learning from others by reading their stories or approaches can be time-consuming but ultimately rewarding.

A tired, distracted mind is not in the best position to learn new skills. It can be tempted to burn the candle at both ends and develop problem solving skills outside of work. Absolutely use your time effectively and take opportunities for self-improvement, though remember that rest is hugely important and that without letting your brain rest, you cannot be at your most effective. 

Creating distance between yourself and the problem you might be facing can also be useful. By letting an idea sit, you can find that a better one presents itself or you can develop it further. Take regular breaks when working and create a space for downtime. Remember that working smarter is preferable to working harder and that self-care is important for any effective learning or improvement process.

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importance of problem solving and decision making skills

Over to you

Now we’ve explored some of the key problem solving skills and the problem solving steps necessary for an effective process, you’re ready to begin developing more effective solutions and leading problem solving workshops.

Need more inspiration? Check out our post on problem solving activities you can use when guiding a group towards a great solution in your next workshop or meeting. Have questions? Did you have a great problem solving technique you use with your team? Get in touch in the comments below. We’d love to chat!

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What Is Creative Problem-Solving & Why Is It Important?

Business team using creative problem-solving

  • 01 Feb 2022

One of the biggest hindrances to innovation is complacency—it can be more comfortable to do what you know than venture into the unknown. Business leaders can overcome this barrier by mobilizing creative team members and providing space to innovate.

There are several tools you can use to encourage creativity in the workplace. Creative problem-solving is one of them, which facilitates the development of innovative solutions to difficult problems.

Here’s an overview of creative problem-solving and why it’s important in business.

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What Is Creative Problem-Solving?

Research is necessary when solving a problem. But there are situations where a problem’s specific cause is difficult to pinpoint. This can occur when there’s not enough time to narrow down the problem’s source or there are differing opinions about its root cause.

In such cases, you can use creative problem-solving , which allows you to explore potential solutions regardless of whether a problem has been defined.

Creative problem-solving is less structured than other innovation processes and encourages exploring open-ended solutions. It also focuses on developing new perspectives and fostering creativity in the workplace . Its benefits include:

  • Finding creative solutions to complex problems : User research can insufficiently illustrate a situation’s complexity. While other innovation processes rely on this information, creative problem-solving can yield solutions without it.
  • Adapting to change : Business is constantly changing, and business leaders need to adapt. Creative problem-solving helps overcome unforeseen challenges and find solutions to unconventional problems.
  • Fueling innovation and growth : In addition to solutions, creative problem-solving can spark innovative ideas that drive company growth. These ideas can lead to new product lines, services, or a modified operations structure that improves efficiency.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

Creative problem-solving is traditionally based on the following key principles :

1. Balance Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Creative problem-solving uses two primary tools to find solutions: divergence and convergence. Divergence generates ideas in response to a problem, while convergence narrows them down to a shortlist. It balances these two practices and turns ideas into concrete solutions.

2. Reframe Problems as Questions

By framing problems as questions, you shift from focusing on obstacles to solutions. This provides the freedom to brainstorm potential ideas.

3. Defer Judgment of Ideas

When brainstorming, it can be natural to reject or accept ideas right away. Yet, immediate judgments interfere with the idea generation process. Even ideas that seem implausible can turn into outstanding innovations upon further exploration and development.

4. Focus on "Yes, And" Instead of "No, But"

Using negative words like "no" discourages creative thinking. Instead, use positive language to build and maintain an environment that fosters the development of creative and innovative ideas.

Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking

Whereas creative problem-solving facilitates developing innovative ideas through a less structured workflow, design thinking takes a far more organized approach.

Design thinking is a human-centered, solutions-based process that fosters the ideation and development of solutions. In the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar leverages a four-phase framework to explain design thinking.

The four stages are:

The four stages of design thinking: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement

  • Clarify: The clarification stage allows you to empathize with the user and identify problems. Observations and insights are informed by thorough research. Findings are then reframed as problem statements or questions.
  • Ideate: Ideation is the process of coming up with innovative ideas. The divergence of ideas involved with creative problem-solving is a major focus.
  • Develop: In the development stage, ideas evolve into experiments and tests. Ideas converge and are explored through prototyping and open critique.
  • Implement: Implementation involves continuing to test and experiment to refine the solution and encourage its adoption.

Creative problem-solving primarily operates in the ideate phase of design thinking but can be applied to others. This is because design thinking is an iterative process that moves between the stages as ideas are generated and pursued. This is normal and encouraged, as innovation requires exploring multiple ideas.

Creative Problem-Solving Tools

While there are many useful tools in the creative problem-solving process, here are three you should know:

Creating a Problem Story

One way to innovate is by creating a story about a problem to understand how it affects users and what solutions best fit their needs. Here are the steps you need to take to use this tool properly.

1. Identify a UDP

Create a problem story to identify the undesired phenomena (UDP). For example, consider a company that produces printers that overheat. In this case, the UDP is "our printers overheat."

2. Move Forward in Time

To move forward in time, ask: “Why is this a problem?” For example, minor damage could be one result of the machines overheating. In more extreme cases, printers may catch fire. Don't be afraid to create multiple problem stories if you think of more than one UDP.

3. Move Backward in Time

To move backward in time, ask: “What caused this UDP?” If you can't identify the root problem, think about what typically causes the UDP to occur. For the overheating printers, overuse could be a cause.

Following the three-step framework above helps illustrate a clear problem story:

  • The printer is overused.
  • The printer overheats.
  • The printer breaks down.

You can extend the problem story in either direction if you think of additional cause-and-effect relationships.

4. Break the Chains

By this point, you’ll have multiple UDP storylines. Take two that are similar and focus on breaking the chains connecting them. This can be accomplished through inversion or neutralization.

  • Inversion: Inversion changes the relationship between two UDPs so the cause is the same but the effect is the opposite. For example, if the UDP is "the more X happens, the more likely Y is to happen," inversion changes the equation to "the more X happens, the less likely Y is to happen." Using the printer example, inversion would consider: "What if the more a printer is used, the less likely it’s going to overheat?" Innovation requires an open mind. Just because a solution initially seems unlikely doesn't mean it can't be pursued further or spark additional ideas.
  • Neutralization: Neutralization completely eliminates the cause-and-effect relationship between X and Y. This changes the above equation to "the more or less X happens has no effect on Y." In the case of the printers, neutralization would rephrase the relationship to "the more or less a printer is used has no effect on whether it overheats."

Even if creating a problem story doesn't provide a solution, it can offer useful context to users’ problems and additional ideas to be explored. Given that divergence is one of the fundamental practices of creative problem-solving, it’s a good idea to incorporate it into each tool you use.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a tool that can be highly effective when guided by the iterative qualities of the design thinking process. It involves openly discussing and debating ideas and topics in a group setting. This facilitates idea generation and exploration as different team members consider the same concept from multiple perspectives.

Hosting brainstorming sessions can result in problems, such as groupthink or social loafing. To combat this, leverage a three-step brainstorming method involving divergence and convergence :

  • Have each group member come up with as many ideas as possible and write them down to ensure the brainstorming session is productive.
  • Continue the divergence of ideas by collectively sharing and exploring each idea as a group. The goal is to create a setting where new ideas are inspired by open discussion.
  • Begin the convergence of ideas by narrowing them down to a few explorable options. There’s no "right number of ideas." Don't be afraid to consider exploring all of them, as long as you have the resources to do so.

Alternate Worlds

The alternate worlds tool is an empathetic approach to creative problem-solving. It encourages you to consider how someone in another world would approach your situation.

For example, if you’re concerned that the printers you produce overheat and catch fire, consider how a different industry would approach the problem. How would an automotive expert solve it? How would a firefighter?

Be creative as you consider and research alternate worlds. The purpose is not to nail down a solution right away but to continue the ideation process through diverging and exploring ideas.

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Continue Developing Your Skills

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, marketer, or business leader, learning the ropes of design thinking can be an effective way to build your skills and foster creativity and innovation in any setting.

If you're ready to develop your design thinking and creative problem-solving skills, explore Design Thinking and Innovation , one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses. If you aren't sure which course is the right fit, download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

importance of problem solving and decision making skills

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importance of problem solving and decision making skills

Importance Of Problem-Solving Skills In The Workplace

importance of problem solving and decision making skills

November 10, 2022

Oxford Languages defines problem-solving as the process of finding solutions that help resolve complicated issues. Problems needing solutions vary from fundamental personal issues of "how do I turn on this laptop?" to more complex topics in academics and business.

What are problem-solving skills?

Problem-solving skills help us solve issues quickly and effectively and hold much importance in our personal and professional lives.

As humans, we all deal with problems. Even if we do not know how to fix the problem, we can process it and understand why it happened in the first place.

Then, we can apply logic to find some solutions to resolve it—no wonder most employers seek problem-solving skills in candidates. Solving problems is beneficial in almost every job role and can help support competency management .

Competency Management

What do problem-solving skills in the workplace look like?

At the core of business development, problem-solving skills enable employees to leverage the available resources to arrive at a solution productively that syncs with the company's integrity. Some examples of problem-solving in the workplace include:

  • Handling and resolving a conflict with a coworker
  • Troubleshooting and eliminating technical issues in a work laptop
  • Solving any problems related to accounting, taxation, and customer billing
  • Taking the initiative when a team member missed or overlooked something important
  • Extracting a new piece of data that can guide a company's strategy in a specific area

In a nutshell, problem-solving is a part of everyone's work - whether they are a manager with years of experience or starting their first job. It may test your critical-thinking skills or involve the use of mathematical operations.

Why are problem-solving skills important in the workplace?

When prospective employers talk about problem-solving, their goal is to measure how candidates support the decision-making process in the company's everyday functioning by applying this skill. Here are four reasons why problem-solving is an important skill to have in the workplace:

1. Strategy prioritization, planning, and execution

Efficient problem-solvers can carefully assess customer requirements and put together a plan that helps them provide a brilliant service to their intended audience. Their forte lies in streamlining processes by removing bottlenecks.

2. Out-of-the-box thinking

Problem-solving and creative thinking go hand-in-hand. It is not a matter of putting a bandaid over an issue but finding a way to fix it dynamically and creatively. This attitude helps the business stay ahead of the curve and improves the workforce's capability over time.

3. Better time management

When a problem arises, it needs to be fixed at the earliest. Employees with excellent problem-solving skills are laser-focused on what is vital to the business and can roll with the punches and tight deadlines to deliver when it matters.

4. Risk management

Planning effectively is an essential problem-solving skill to have. Problem-solvers can react quickly to short-term situations without losing sight of the future. Their positive attitude towards learning agility helps them anticipate problems that may arise in the future based on past experiences, industry trends and patterns, and current events.

Learning Agility

What are the four stages of problem-solving in the workplace?

Understanding the critical components involved in problem-solving will help you better demonstrate your expertise to your managers. Businesses rely on people who can assess different types of situations and calmly identify solutions. Strong problem-solvers are a valuable addition to any team. Here are the four stages of problem-solving that you must know about:

1. Understand the problem

First, analyze the situation carefully to learn more about the problem. Many employees jump to providing solutions before determining the cause of the problem. Try anticipating the behavior and response of the people affected by it.

Based on your preliminary observation, undertake the following activities to pinpoint the problem more accurately:

  • Separate facts from opinions.
  • Analyze company policies and procedures.
  • Determine the process where the problem exists.
  • Discuss with team members involved to gather more information.

When defining a problem, please stay focused on it rather than define it in terms of a solution at this stage. For instance, if the sales numbers need to be consistent in the next quarter, simply say the sales numbers are inconsistent.

A quick way to verify whether you understand what you are dealing with is to explain it to a fellow team member. This ties into your communication skills. If you can talk about the issue clearly with others, it means you understand the case in your hands.

Depending on the complexity of the problem, you may want to use flowcharts or cause-and-effect graphs to define the problem and its root causes.

2. List all possible solutions

Workplace solutions are either strategic or tactical. A strategic solution is a long-term fix for an issue. This requires you to take a series of steps to process the entire architecture of the problem.

On the other hand, a tactical solution is more of a short-term fix. It could be as simple as reusing a piece of code from your last development project to eliminate the irritating error message in your new one.

Brainstorm all possible ways to solve the existing problem. Problem-solving delivers better results with cognitive diversity . Therefore, make sure you get the team members affected by it and those who may have more experience with the type of challenge you are facing to brainstorm potential solutions. Conduct discussions face-to-face or virtually and use surveys.

Cognitive Diversity

Spot and remove every aspect that slows down your problem-solving. Ensure the ideas and suggestions put forward to align with the relevant goals and objectives. Create a list of 5-8 long-term and short-term solutions.

3. Evaluate the solutions

Assess the pros and cons of each solution and identify the resources required for their implementation, including personnel, time allocation, budget constraints, and data requirements. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the solution practical and easy to implement?
  • Is it acceptable to everyone involved?
  • Does it solve the problem smoothly without creating another problem?
  • Does it fit within the company's procedures and policies?

The ability to promptly evaluate solutions ties into your management skills. Train yourself to identify as many parameters as possible, such as duration, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and practicality, so you can come up with the most effective solution in a shorter period.

4. Implement and monitor the progress of the chosen solution

Create an action plan to implement the solution. Define its objectives and divide them into measurable targets for monitoring the implementation. Set timelines for implementation. Communicate the plan to everyone involved.

After that, continuously monitor the progress to ensure your solution works. Gather feedback from others and data to check whether the solution helps resolve the problem. You may need to adjust the resolution if anything unexpected arises, so please be prepared for that.

What are the critical problem-solving skills in the workplace?

Problem-solving skills enable you to seek and engage candidates who are cognitively equipped to handle anything their jobs throw at them. Problem solvers can observe, judge, and act quickly when the situation demands it- without negatively impacting the business. Here are the top problem-solving skills in the workplace:

1. Decision-making prowess

Decision-making skills are an essential part of problem-solving. That is because you can only solve it if you wholly understand the problem and decide to do something about it. Decision-making skills help professionals quickly choose between two or more alternatives after evaluating the pros and cons of each.

2. Communication

Successfully communicating the problem and recommending solutions for it verbally and in writing is an art in itself. Proper communication ensures solutions are carried out effectively, and everyone involved in the conflict is on the same page.

3. Open-mindedness

Open-mindedness is essentially the willingness to look at things from a different perspective and consider new ideas. When you have a problem in front of you, review its various aspects to come up with the best solution possible. Being curious and aware helps one be a better problem-solver.

4. Analytics skills

Nearly all problem-solving cases require some form of analysis - forecasting, critical thinking, or troubleshooting. Analytical skills empower you to understand the problem better and develop practical solutions based on facts and evidence.

5. Teamwork

Collaboration is the key to ensuring communication lines are always open, problems are addressed cooperatively, and the team's objectives precede personal goals.

Team dynamics are critical to problem-solving as it helps you work well with others towards a common goal. Necessary collaboration skills include conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, empathy, sensitivity, and respect.

Over to you

In hiring, pre-employment aptitude tests assess qualities critical to most jobs, such as critical thinking, abstract reasoning, attention to detail, and so on. Problem-solving, specifically, is also a significant predictor of job performance .

However, this skill is as varied as the issues it is applied to. The best problem solvers use the same basic approach to identify and solve problems and incorporate all the skills and steps discussed in the blog post for successful results.

Adaface's aptitude tests help evaluate a candidate's ability to understand instruction, analyze the information at hand, and respond to complicated situations or problems.

The questions are designed to fetch insights into the candidates' problem-solving and coachability. Check them out!

  • Problem-solving test
  • Logical reasoning test
  • Critical thinking test

Asavari is an EiR at Adaface. She has made it her mission to help recruiters deploy candidate-friendly skill tests instead of trick-question based tests. When taking a break, she obsesses over art.

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Critical Thinking and Decision-Making  - What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking and decision-making  -, what is critical thinking, critical thinking and decision-making what is critical thinking.

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Critical Thinking and Decision-Making: What is Critical Thinking?

Lesson 1: what is critical thinking, what is critical thinking.

Critical thinking is a term that gets thrown around a lot. You've probably heard it used often throughout the years whether it was in school, at work, or in everyday conversation. But when you stop to think about it, what exactly is critical thinking and how do you do it ?

Watch the video below to learn more about critical thinking.

Simply put, critical thinking is the act of deliberately analyzing information so that you can make better judgements and decisions . It involves using things like logic, reasoning, and creativity, to draw conclusions and generally understand things better.

illustration of the terms logic, reasoning, and creativity

This may sound like a pretty broad definition, and that's because critical thinking is a broad skill that can be applied to so many different situations. You can use it to prepare for a job interview, manage your time better, make decisions about purchasing things, and so much more.

The process

illustration of "thoughts" inside a human brain, with several being connected and "analyzed"

As humans, we are constantly thinking . It's something we can't turn off. But not all of it is critical thinking. No one thinks critically 100% of the time... that would be pretty exhausting! Instead, it's an intentional process , something that we consciously use when we're presented with difficult problems or important decisions.

Improving your critical thinking

illustration of the questions "What do I currently know?" and "How do I know this?"

In order to become a better critical thinker, it's important to ask questions when you're presented with a problem or decision, before jumping to any conclusions. You can start with simple ones like What do I currently know? and How do I know this? These can help to give you a better idea of what you're working with and, in some cases, simplify more complex issues.  

Real-world applications

illustration of a hand holding a smartphone displaying an article that reads, "Study: Cats are better than dogs"

Let's take a look at how we can use critical thinking to evaluate online information . Say a friend of yours posts a news article on social media and you're drawn to its headline. If you were to use your everyday automatic thinking, you might accept it as fact and move on. But if you were thinking critically, you would first analyze the available information and ask some questions :

  • What's the source of this article?
  • Is the headline potentially misleading?
  • What are my friend's general beliefs?
  • Do their beliefs inform why they might have shared this?

illustration of "Super Cat Blog" and "According to survery of cat owners" being highlighted from an article on a smartphone

After analyzing all of this information, you can draw a conclusion about whether or not you think the article is trustworthy.

Critical thinking has a wide range of real-world applications . It can help you to make better decisions, become more hireable, and generally better understand the world around you.

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  • v.6(4); Oct-Dec 2016

Effect of training problem-solving skill on decision-making and critical thinking of personnel at medical emergencies

Mohammad heidari.

Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences, Shahrekord, Iran

Sara Shahbazi

1 Department of Nursing, Borujen Nursing Faculty, Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences, Shahrekord, Iran

Background:

The aim of this study was to determine the effect of problem-solving training on decision-making skill and critical thinking in emergency medical personnel.

Materials and Methods:

This study is an experimental study that performed in 95 emergency medical personnel in two groups of control (48) and experimental (47). Then, a short problem-solving course based on 8 sessions of 2 h during the term, was performed for the experimental group. Of data gathering was used demographic and researcher made decision-making and California critical thinking skills questionnaires. Data were analyzed using SPSS software.

The finding revealed that decision-making and critical thinking score in emergency medical personnel are low and problem-solving course, positively affected the personnel’ decision-making skill and critical thinking after the educational program ( P < 0.05).

Conclusions:

Therefore, this kind of education on problem-solving in various emergency medicine domains such as education, research, and management, is recommended.

INTRODUCTION

Having strong coping skills to reduce stress and satisfaction on the decision-making process to be creative and also having problem-solving skill is necessary in life.[ 1 ] In this way, learning should be defined “meaningful” and problem-solving skill is one of these ways.[ 2 ]

Unfortunately, traditional teaching method in universities transfers a mixture of information and concepts to individuals but leaves them alone in analyzing, prioritizing, and reorganizing emerging knowledge which requires critical thinking and will lead to effective and meaningful learning.[ 3 ] Critical thinking is considered is an essential part of clinical decision-making and professional competence of nursing staff and medical emergencies. Emphasize the need for this skill in these jobs is due to rapid change in the healthcare field and complexities of this current system,[ 4 , 5 ] which face staff working in health–care services with the special situation to render safe, decent, and high–quality services. In general, health–care staff has to use critical thinking in taking important and vital decisions inevitable.[ 6 ]

Education experts agree that critical thinking should be an integral part of any education in every level, because, it is thinking that will lead to make a decision the best possible solution with analyzing, assessing, selecting, and application and this is what is needed in the contemporary world of today.[ 5 ] Interest in the abilities of critical thinking in educational circles is not a new phenomenon, and its origin dates back to Plato's Academy.[ 7 ]

Accordingly, this skill is considered as a priority in training medical specialties.[ 8 ] However, using and expanding it by staff of medical emergencies is a necessity,[ 9 ] which causes delineating comprehensive and purposeful care plan and also increasing the probability of success in the management of victims and the scene.[ 10 , 11 ]

Furthermore, increase the number and scale of natural disasters over the past decade has caused that staff of medical emergencies, working in the field of healthcare and treatment cares in current situation, face with very complicated problems comprehensively as a result of advanced technology, ethical and cultural factors. In this regard, it is necessary that traditional methods should be replaced with decentralized emergency management systems to meet demands and attain considerable success in severe events and catastrophic disasters. Some of these techniques use decision-making skills, creative thinking, and problem-solving skill in today's world.[ 12 , 13 ]

Critical thinking skills in medical education are considered as the ultimate goal of learning and staff and personnel, who think creatively and critically, less commit false judgment and conclusion, rather, they try to concentrate on topics that are relevant to the clinical area and adopt proper decision in this respect, the issue of which can reduce gap between theoretical and clinical education to a great extent.[ 14 ]

However, making a decision is considered the most important and risky part of health–care professions. Therefore, knowing the decision making and applying useful strategies for creating this skill is essential for health–care personnel, particularly, the staff working in medical emergencies.[ 15 ] Triage is just one of complicated decision-making examples which include considering patient and other factors of the treatment system.[ 16 ]

Therefore, knowing decision-making and applying fruitful strategies for the creation of this skill is essential for healthcare workers, especially those working in medical emergencies.[ 17 ] Considering the job sensitivity of medical emergencies’ staff and significance of decision-making power and ability of solving problem in them,[ 18 ] as well as selecting and adopting accurate decision at the time of triage of patients, they (health-care workers) are in dire need of skill more than anything else to adopt proper decision.

On the other hand, moreover all these problems, staff working in medical emergencies will face unique problems which are specific to their job environment such as working with multiple staff and people in treatment team of patients and crisis–hit families, happy and sad moments, life and death, accidents and disaster.[ 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 ]

Therefore, with due observance to the said issues, the effect of training problem-solving skills on decision-making power and critical thinking of staff working in medical emergencies is the main aim of this study.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

This is an experimental study with two pre- and post–test stages, in which, effect of teaching problem-solving skill (independent variable) has been studied on decision-making skill and critical thinking of 95 staff working in medical emergencies (dependent variable). This 95 staff was divided into two groups: Experimental ( n = 47) and control ( n = 48). A sample of this study includes all staff working in medical emergencies as many as 95 persons who showed their interest to participate in this study. Purposive sampling method and size in this study were similar to the total population. In Iran, prehospital emergency medical handled by the graduate of an emergency medical technician and a bachelor and only men is graduates in this field. Moreover, there are a number of general physicians in the central dispatch who provide medical consultation for people who call emergency medical services (EMS) and also give medical advice to the technicians who treat victims at the crash scene or on the way to the hospital.[ 23 ]

Then, all personnel filled out a demographic variables’ questionnaire. In this questionnaire, it was tried to control factors affecting decision-making power and critical thinking (such as age, marital status, working experience, education, number of children, mental illness and consumption of psychotropic drugs and experience of participating in classes (emotional intelligence, stress management, yoga, problem-solving and decision-making within 6 months) in each two groups. In this regard, any significant difference was not observed between research units in both groups ( P > 0.05). decision-making and critical thinking skill of personnel was evaluated before and after the intervention.

Decision-making skill was evaluated in twenty questions using decision-making questionnaire. According to Likert Scale, each question was scored in four levels from 0.25 to 1. The minimum and maximum score in this questionnaire stood at 5 and 20, respectively. In other words, the lowest score in this questionnaire was calculated 5, whereas the highest score stood at 20. Translation and preparation stages of questionnaire were conducted.

In the same direction, face and content validity of the questionnaire was approved by five professors. The reliability of this test was obtained at 0.87 and approved using retest method in a 2-week time interval for 30 persons.

California critical thinking skills’ test is not a test only, rather, it includes various editions for measuring critical thinking skills in children, young adults, students in various academic levels and also various health, law and business professions, etc.

Questions of the questionnaire are divided into two forms. In one classification, three cognitive critical thinking skills including analyzing, evaluating, and inference are measured while in the second category, two cognitive skills of inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning are evaluated. In fact, all forms and various editions of this test are measured the five mentioned cognitive skills.[ 24 ]

The questionnaire used in this study consists of 34 four or five option questions with only one option is correct. The timeframe for completing this questionnaire was set about 45 min. Some questions should be answered with thinking and inferring a series of assumptions while some others should be answered with well–grounded assessment of a conclusion.

This questionnaire is appropriate for evaluating students’ critical thinking and also for assessment of those people who are in dire need of solving problem and making a decision.[ 25 ] Scores of questionnaire assess general skills of critical thinking. The range of test scores is between 0 and 34.[ 26 ]

In a study conducted by Khalili et al . on 405 students in Nursing at Tehran, Iran and Shahid Beheshti Universities of Medical Sciences, Persian translation of this form was studied in terms of validity and reliability. The reliability coefficient obtained in the above study, using KR-20 (62%), had a high correlation with the reliability coefficient obtained in the standardization process of this test conducted in the US (68%-70%).

Furthermore, construct validity, which has been translated as the most important validity type in tests, indicates correlation between the structure of this test and its basic theory.[ 27 ]

To control data transfer between personnel of test and control groups, personnel of the experimental group were requested not to talk with the control group at the time of research with regard to the conducted interventions.

Then, training a course of problem-solving skill was held in eight 2-h sessions during 8 weeks in the presence of personnel of experimental group, using group discussion methods, brainstorming and discussion in small four–member groups with the guidance of a pertinent professor, taking advantage of social problem-solving model as practiced by D–zurilla and gold fried. The stages of this model include:

Stage 1: General orientation

  • The ability to identify problem
  • Acknowledging the problem as a changeable potentially natural phenomenon
  • Believed to be effective in dealing with the problem-solving framework
  • High self–efficiency expectations to implement stages of model
  • Accustomed to stop, think, and then making effort to solve a problem.

Stage 2: Defining and formulating the problem

  • Collection of all information available
  • Separation of facts is of the assumptions which require investigation
  • Analysis of the problem
  • Specifying the actual objectives.

Stage 3: Production of alternative solutions

  • To determine wide range of possible solutions
  • Ability to choose the most effective response to replies.

Stage 4: Decision-making

  • Predict probable consequences of each action
  • Paying due attention to the usefulness of these consequences.

Stage 5: Implementation of solution

  • Execute the selected method.

Stage 6: Review

  • Observing the results of execution
  • Evaluation.[ 19 ]

All sessions of the training course were designed in tandem with this pattern, and one stage of this pattern was executed in each session.

In each session, so the presence of all members of the experimental group, the instructor explained the objectives of the meeting and the participants requested that their experiences in dealing with different problems on the job fit the theme of the meeting, express. Then, discuss a case study, and participation in meeting goals, training was provided to them.

To analyze data, descriptive and inferential statistics were used. In this study, data were analyzed using SPSS statistical software version 16.0 (SPSS Inc. Released 2009. PASW Statistics for Windows, Version 16.0. Chicago: SPSS Inc.) In addition, statistical t -test, Chi–square test, and paired t -test were used.

This study was conducted on 95 personnel of medical emergencies. 100% of participants in this study were men, and all were employed in prehospital emergency centers in Isfahan Province. It should be noted that only men are presently admitted to medical emergencies’ course. The age range of participants was between 23 and 51 years, and their mean age stood at 32.15 ± 5.21.

Of total participants, 29 (30.52%) and 66 (69.47%) persons were single and married, respectively. The minimum and maximum job experience of participants in this study stood at 1 and 29 years, respectively. The mean work experience of all participants stood at 33.6 ± 5.42. Of total participants in this study, 10 participants (10.52%) held a diploma degree, 32 participants (33.68%) with associate's degree, 50 participants (52.63%) with Bachelor's degree and three participants (3.15%) with Master's degree. Of total participants, 48 persons (50.52%) graduated in nursing, 25 persons (26.31%) in medical emergencies, nine persons (9.47%) in anesthesiology, five persons (5.26%) in operating room, and eight persons (8.42%) graduated in other fields of study.

In terms of employment status, 20 of participants (2.10%) were official crew members, whereas 54 participants (56.84%) had been employed in contracting basis, 11 of participants (11.57%) employed in contractual basis, whereas 10 participants (10.52%) had been employed as corporate manpower.

It should be noted that 60 participants (63.15%) were employed in urban emergency bases while 35 of them (36.84%) had been employed in road emergency centers.

Before intervention, mean and standard deviation of decision-making scores in experimental and control groups stood at (12.85 ± 2.57) and (11.79 ± 2.12), respectively, while total score of critical thinking in test and control groups stood at (10.42 ± 1.85) and (10.61 ± 2.12), respectively.

Given the above issue, independent t -test did not show a significant statistical difference between these means. Furthermore, Chi–square statistical test showed that there is not any significant difference between two groups of “experimental” and “control” statistically in terms of demographic variables. None of the groups, that is, “experimental” and “control” showed experience of participating in the following classes such as “yoga,” “problem solving,” “emotional intelligence,” and “stress control and management.”

The average decision-making score in whole samples before intervention stood at 11.84 ± 1.38 while critical thinking score stood at 11.03 ± 1.09, the rate of which is not acceptable.

The mean decision-making score before intervention showed no a significant difference between the two groups statistically ( P > 0.05), but the mean between two groups showed the significant difference after intervention ( P < 0.05) [ Table 1 ]. The mean score of critical thinking did not show any significant difference between the two groups before the intervention ( P > 0.05), but this mean showed a significant difference between the two groups after intervention ( P < 0.05) [ Table 2 ].

Comparing mean change of decision-making skill score before and after intervention

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Object name is IJCIIS-6-182-g001.jpg

Comparing mean change of critical thinking scores’ difference before and after intervention

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJCIIS-6-182-g002.jpg

Tables ​ Tables3 3 and ​ and4 4 indicate that mean decision-making and critical thinking scores before and after intervention in “experimental” group showed a significant difference ( P < 0.05) and has increased, but it did not show any significant difference in “control” group ( P > 0.05).

Comparing mean difference of decision-making skill scores before and after intervention

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJCIIS-6-182-g003.jpg

Comparing mean difference of critical thinking scores before and after intervention

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJCIIS-6-182-g004.jpg

Any significant relationship was not observed between demographic variables with critical thinking and decision-making power ( P > 0.05).

The results of this study show the weakness of decision-making and critical thinking skill in personnel of medical emergencies and an increase of this skill with training problem-solving skill. Unfortunately, a study has not thus far been conducted with regard to the determination of decision-making skill among personnel of medical emergencies.

In a study which was conducted by Gunnarsson and Stomberg in Sweden, he examined factors affecting decision making among EMS personnel in emergency centers. In his study, he reported that various factors affect decision-making power of these personnel which includes as follows: Factors related to patient, factors related to the environment, factors related to colleagues, factors related to patients’ privacy issues, performance of team leader, staff technical know–how and knowledge and moral contradictions, etc.[ 28 ] It should be noted that these issues make decision making very difficult for these people and sometimes, would lead to unsuccessful decisions.[ 26 ]

In a study conducted by Franklin et al ., they examined the way of decision-making among staff of medical emergency and reported that method of staff's decision-making has high relationship with the mental processes, cognitive abilities, degree of sensitiveness of decision, power of cognition (judgment), solving problem, and organizational situation of their workplace. Therefore, quality decision-making training courses should be organized at higher levels by adopting better decisions. Hence, to make better decision, staff must make an educated decision at higher levels, and education in healthcare environment merely should go step further. Generally speaking, high–level training courses should be disseminated in this regard.[ 29 ]

Furthermore, results of study conducted by Dy and Purnell showed that a variety of factors effect on the complexity of decision-making process among personnel in healthcare and treatment system, the most important of which include as follows: ability and talent of individuals, level of culture, ability of patient, level of knowledge and information, method of establishing relationship, ability of solving problem, etc. To adopt the best decision, personnel should strengthen and improve the aforesaid skills among themselves.[ 30 ]

Pitt et al . also reported that promoting critical thinking skills can increase professional competency and qualifications of nurses to a great extent, the issue of which as of paramount importance for personnel working in special emergency wards.[ 31 ]

Thaiposri and Wannapiroon also studied the impact of conceptual methods in promoting critical thinking skill and enumerated problem-solving method as one of methods of strengthening and improving critical thinking skill which is a solid evidence of the said claim.[ 32 ]

Popil also showed that the critical thinking skill can be promoted using challenge methods such as case study.[ 9 ] The results a study conducted by Roberts et al . and Heidari and Ebrahimi emphasizing on decision-making skill, confirm these results.[ 33 , 34 ]

With due observance to the results of this study and given the significance which is considered for empowering associate's degree personnel of medical emergencies in terms of problem-solving skills, it can be concluded that these skills are weak among them. Hence, to attain the best decisions, providers should receive on-the-job training to foster strong problem-solving and decision-making skills that can be utilized in the field and on the front lines of Iranian emergency medicine.

CONCLUSIONS

Finally, despite the significance of decision making and its influence on the way of managing and caring victims, the results of studies conducted in Iran show the insufficient skill of personnel in decision-making and critical thinking process.

Considering the job sensitivity of staff working in medical emergencies and significance of decision-making power and ability of critical thinking in them, it can be said that giant stride can be taken in line with promoting scientific and job level of associate's degree personnel working in medical emergencies.

In general, status of this scientific course can be promoted to a great extent. Considering that this study has been conducted among students in medical emergencies, generalization of results of this study to other students is impossible, so that this study is recommended to be conducted in other academic courses with high number of students.

In other words, results of this study cannot be generalized to other students. For this reason, this study is recommended to be conducted for students of other academic courses.

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Problem Solving And Decision Making Process - Benefits, Steps, & Skills

Problem Solving And Decision Making Process - Benefits, Steps, & Skills

Written By : Bakkah

15 Jan 2024

Table of Content

What is the decision-making process? 

What is the Problem-Solving process? 

Benefits of Decision making & Problem-solving 

What are Decision-making skills? 

What are problem-solving skills? 

Decision-making Process: 

Problem-Solving Step in the Process:

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An international crisis, global pandemic or even adopting new technology all these occurrences may wreck the organizational structure a bit. That’s why it is important to improve decision-making and problem-solving skills in case we found ourselves before such challenging matters.  

Every member of the company, at some point, is asked to decide on something or maybe solve a problem. However, higher authority has a hard time trying to sort out humongous matters incorporation with HR management to make sure that the decisions are all aligned. 

Let us introduce you to some skills, steps, and the benefits of developing your decision-making and problem-solving strategy. 

What is the decision-making process?  

A decision-making process is a set of processes done by a person to choose the best alternative or course of decision-making activities for them.

It is a collection of measures conducted by managers in a firm to define the planned course for business initiatives and to put actions in motion.

What is the Problem-Solving process?  

The problem-solving process is the process of observing the organization’s atmosphere as a whole to spot any irritating matters and to figure out why such problems occurred in the first place, to examine the possibility of improvement or change, in order to develop alternatives of problem-solving activities which can help with the decision-making process. 

Benefits of Decision making & Problem-solving  

Problem-solving & decision-making are essential talents. They can assist you with several circumstances that may arise at work.

The talents may be used in conjunction with one another to tackle many of the same problems. Here are some benefits of using decision making and problem-solving skills in your organization: 

Saving time and making better use of resources:  

Planning things ahead spare you so much trouble and make it easy for you to go back and spot the error and handle it. 

It is the same with the two skills in hand, they both require thorough planning to make sure time is used efficiently and resources are exploited perfectly. 

Easy Delegation Process: 

If you approach decisions as a single jumbled step, your only options are to accomplish everything yourself or to chuck the assignment over the wall and pray for the best.

It is much easier to assign work and schedule check-ins at suitable stages if all stakeholders have shared process clarity on the phases of making choices. 

People will accomplish things faster: 

it is easier to set clear goals, have flexible timelines, and prepare the resources needed. This way your people will only occupy themselves with work and try to finish things as well as possible. 

Prevention of quarrels:  

When a manager is insufficiently forceful and leaves too many decisions to the workers, it can lead to workplace conflict.

A situation in which employees are unsure of the way they are being led might result in an overabundance of players attempting to take command.

Improve your decision-making abilities and show them the way to avoid your colleagues arguing over how to complete a project or which proposal is superior for your team!   

Sometimes you don’t even sense that your organization has experienced a downfall, and this is thanks to a clever implementation of detailed problem-solving followed by a decision-making process.

Decision-making Process:  

Identify the problem: .

Whether you're tackling a complex problem or a relatively simple one, it's vital that you have a clear understanding of what it is that you're hoping to solve. 

If you're trying to tackle several problems (even if they're relatively simple) the task becomes much harder. 

Do your research: 

You'll want to undertake some fact-finding and investigation once you've defined the problem you're trying to solve.

This might entail investigating the causes of previous problems that were successfully remedied. It may be necessary to create interview questions to ask persons engaged in the situation. 

Look for possible solutions: 

It's time to start thinking about possible remedies after you've done your study on the issue. This step necessitates creativity and brainstorming as you come up with a few excellent ideas. 

As well as some backup plans in case the initial set fails. Creating contingency plans to prevent more difficulties is a common part of problem solving. 

Make a decision: 

Once you've compiled a list of potential solutions, work your way down the list to the best option. If you're working in a group, attempt to make decisions collectively and come up with a solution that everyone agrees on. 

Put that decision into action: 

Implement your selected solution in a methodical manner. Avoid acting too quickly, since this will almost always result in a shoddy solution that fails to accomplish the desired outcome. 

Await results: 

Examine how well your solution is functioning and decide whether you need to take any more steps. Before you follow up and decide whether to adjust your strategy, it's ideal to set a time for observation. 

Even though Decision making and Problem-solving processes might be similar in some steps, it is important to know the steps of Problem solving process as well. 

Define the problem : 

you’ll have to identify the issue, understand how it came to existence, and see if there’s enough data to start working with. 

Clarify the problem

Clarify the problem are you aware of everything related to it? Or do you need more information? You need to know if this was a priority to fix now, or it can simply wait while handling other more important issues. 

Define the goals :

in this step, you’ll have a fixed goal that you aim to achieve after solving this problem. Fixing a clear timeline would encourage working faster and harder to solve the problem. 

Identify the roots & the major causes of the inconvenience :

A problem doesn’t occur out of thin air, there must be a reason, and for you to get rid of this problem once and for all, you need to extract the reason. 

  • Develop an action plan:

Make a list of the steps that must be taken to treat the core cause & prevent the problem from spreading to others. 

Each activity should have an owner and a deadline. Finally, actions should be tracked to verify that they are completed. 

Execute action plan :

now that you’ve had your list of steps, put it into motion! Just make sure everything is crossed out of your action plan. 

Evaluate the results :

Match the results you got with the goals you set in earlier steps. Check if there were any unpredictable consequences. If your goals weren’t achieved, then the problem isn’t solved yet, meaning you must start all over again. 

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Problem-solving and decision-making: skills every leader must have.

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While there are many qualities that go into creating an effective leader, problem-solving and decision-making stand out as key components. An organization, team, or project's success can be determined by a leader's capacity to overcome obstacles and make wise decisions. We will discuss the importance of these abilities in this post, as well as how leaders can develop them to succeed in their positions.

Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: Skills Every Leader Must Have

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India Today

Explained: Importance of critical thinking, problem-solving skills in curriculum

F uture careers are no longer about domain expertise or technical skills. Rather, critical thinking and problem-solving skills in employees are on the wish list of every big organization today. Even curriculums and pedagogies across the globe and within India are now requiring skilled workers who are able to think critically and are analytical.

The reason for this shift in perspective is very simple.

These skills provide a staunch foundation for comprehensive learning that extends beyond books or the four walls of the classroom. In a nutshell, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are a part of '21st Century Skills' that can help unlock valuable learning for life.

Over the years, the education system has been moving away from the system of rote and other conventional teaching and learning parameters.

They are aligning their curriculums to the changing scenario which is becoming more tech-driven and demands a fusion of critical skills, life skills, values, and domain expertise. There's no set formula for success.

Rather, there's a defined need for humans to be more creative, innovative, adaptive, agile, risk-taking, and have a problem-solving mindset.

In today's scenario, critical thinking and problem-solving skills have become more important because they open the human mind to multiple possibilities, solutions, and a mindset that is interdisciplinary in nature.

Therefore, many schools and educational institutions are deploying AI and immersive learning experiences via gaming, and AR-VR technologies to give a more realistic and hands-on learning experience to their students that hone these abilities and help them overcome any doubt or fear.

ADVANTAGES OF CRITICAL THINKING AND PROBLEM-SOLVING IN CURRICULUM

Ability to relate to the real world:  Instead of theoretical knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills encourage students to look at their immediate and extended environment through a spirit of questioning, curiosity, and learning. When the curriculum presents students with real-world problems, the learning is immense.

Confidence, agility & collaboration : Critical thinking and problem-solving skills boost self-belief and confidence as students examine, re-examine, and sometimes fail or succeed while attempting to do something.

They are able to understand where they may have gone wrong, attempt new approaches, ask their peers for feedback and even seek their opinion, work together as a team, and learn to face any challenge by responding to it.

Willingness to try new things: When problem-solving skills and critical thinking are encouraged by teachers, they set a robust foundation for young learners to experiment, think out of the box, and be more innovative and creative besides looking for new ways to upskill.

It's important to understand that merely introducing these skills into the curriculum is not enough. Schools and educational institutions must have upskilling workshops and conduct special training for teachers so as to ensure that they are skilled and familiarized with new teaching and learning techniques and new-age concepts that can be used in the classrooms via assignments and projects.

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are two of the most sought-after skills. Hence, schools should emphasise the upskilling of students as a part of the academic curriculum.

The article is authored by Dr Tassos Anastasiades, Principal- IB, Genesis Global School, Noida. 

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Explained: Importance of critical thinking, problem-solving skills in curriculum

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COMMENTS

  1. Decision-Making and Problem-Solving: What's the Difference?

    Problem-solving and decision-making skills are both important because they can help you navigate a variety of situations that might come up at work. They complement one another and can resolve many of the same issues. Both problem-solving and decision-making involve critical thinking.

  2. Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders

    4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need. 1. Problem Framing. One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you're trying to solve.

  3. The 7 steps of Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making

    ‍ The 7 steps of Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making A vital hurdle every leader must overcome is to avoid the impulsive urge to make quick decisions. Often when confronted with a problem, leaders or managers fall back in past behaviours.

  4. Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

    Decision-making is perhaps best thought of as a key part of problem-solving: one part of the overall process. Our approach at Skills You Need is to set out a framework to help guide you through the decision-making process.

  5. The Importance of Problem Solving vs Decision Making Skills

    Sintelly | February 23, 2020 | Life Skliis Decision making and problem solving are vital skills in both personal and professional life. This article explores the relationship between problem solving vs decision making, the types of decision makers, and why honing these skills is essential.

  6. 7 Problem-Solving Skills That Can Help You Be a More ...

    As an ability, problem-solving can aid in resolving issues faced in different environments like home, school, abroad, and social situations, among others. As a process, problem-solving involves a series of steps for finding solutions to questions or concerns that arise throughout life. The importance of problem-solving for managers

  7. Problem-Solving Skills: What They Are and How to Improve Yours

    Problem-Solving Skills: What They Are and How to Improve Yours - Glassdoor US Problem-solving skills are a valuable trait that most employers seek in candidates. Learn what the most important problem-solving skills are.

  8. What Are Critical Thinking Skills and Why Are They Important?

    It makes you a well-rounded individual, one who has looked at all of their options and possible solutions before making a choice. According to the University of the People in California, having critical thinking skills is important because they are [ 1 ]: Universal. Crucial for the economy. Essential for improving language and presentation skills.

  9. WHY PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS MATTER IN THE WORKPLACE

    The importance of problem solving skills in the workplace. Problem solving is a vital skill in the workplace. The ability to think logically and creatively empowers individuals to tackle challenges and seize opportunities in all levels of business. This in turn helps to achieve the following benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace:

  10. The Importance of Problem Solving Skills in the Workplace

    Generally, problem-solving refers to a person's ability to successfully manage and find solutions for complex and unexpected situations. Candidates with great problem-solving skills have a combination of analytical and creative thinking. They're comfortable with making decisions and confident enough to rise to challenges in the workplace.

  11. The Most Important Decision-Making Skills (With Examples)

    Key Takeaways: You make decisions every day for various functions, from personal to professional, and consistently making good decisions can only help your career. There are three main ways to approach decision-making: using intuition, reasoning, or a combination of both.

  12. Decision-Making & Its Importance in Problem-Solving

    Decision-making and its importance in problem-solving The importance of decision making lies in the way it helps you in choosing between various options. Before making a decision, there is a need to gather all available information and to weigh its pros and cons. It is crucial to focus on steps that can help in taking the right decisions.

  13. Mastering Decision-Making: Essential Skills for Success and Growth

    Having the right decision-making skills can benefit an organization or group. Decisions made by a group leader can impact their followers greatly; thus, it is important to have the right decision-making skills. Firstly, possessing good decision-making skills can be a great asset in problem-solving and handling situations.

  14. How to improve your problem solving skills and strategies

    Project management and communication skills are key here - your solution may need to adjust when out in the wild or you might discover new challenges along the way. 7. Solution evaluation. So you and your team developed a great solution to a problem and have a gut feeling its been solved.

  15. What Is Creative Problem-Solving & Why Is It Important?

    Creative problem-solving primarily operates in the ideate phase of design thinking but can be applied to others. This is because design thinking is an iterative process that moves between the stages as ideas are generated and pursued. This is normal and encouraged, as innovation requires exploring multiple ideas.

  16. Importance Of Problem-Solving Skills In The Workplace

    1. Strategy prioritization, planning, and execution Efficient problem-solvers can carefully assess customer requirements and put together a plan that helps them provide a brilliant service to their intended audience. Their forte lies in streamlining processes by removing bottlenecks. 2. Out-of-the-box thinking

  17. Critical Thinking and Decision-Making: What is Critical Thinking?

    Improving your critical thinking In order to become a better critical thinker, it's important to ask questions when you're presented with a problem or decision, before jumping to any conclusions. You can start with simple ones like What do I currently know? and How do I know this?

  18. The Power Of Critical Thinking: Enhancing Decision-Making And Problem

    Critical thinking is a fundamental cognitive process that enables individuals to objectively analyze, evaluate and interpret information to make informed decisions and solve complex problems. It...

  19. Tips And Techniques For Problem-Solving And Decision-Making

    There are two main approaches to problem-solving and decision-making: vertical thinking and horizontal thinking. Both approaches have strengths and weaknesses, so understanding the differences ...

  20. Effect of training problem-solving skill on decision-making and

    INTRODUCTION. Having strong coping skills to reduce stress and satisfaction on the decision-making process to be creative and also having problem-solving skill is necessary in life.[] In this way, learning should be defined "meaningful" and problem-solving skill is one of these ways.[]Unfortunately, traditional teaching method in universities transfers a mixture of information and concepts ...

  21. Problem Solving And Decision Making Process

    The problem-solving process is the process of observing the organization's atmosphere as a whole to spot any irritating matters and to figure out why such problems occurred in the first place, to examine the possibility of improvement or change, in order to develop alternatives of problem-solving activities which can help with the decision ...

  22. Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: Skills Every Leader Must Have

    While there are many qualities that go into creating an effective leader, problem-solving and decision-making stand out as key components. An organization, team, or project's success can be determined by a leader's capacity to overcome obstacles and make wise decisions. We will discuss the importance of these abilities in this post, as well as how leaders can develop them to succeed in their ...

  23. 7 Power Skills That Are in Demand in 2024 and How You Can ...

    Helping them hone these skills can lead to your organization hiring from within when the need for a new salesperson arises. Creating an agile workforce: When your employees have strong power skills, like problem-solving, they adapt quicker to the unknown—whether it's new technology or a worldwide pandemic that disrupts everything.

  24. Explained: Importance of critical thinking, problem-solving skills in

    F uture careers are no longer about domain expertise or technical skills. Rather, critical thinking and problem-solving skills in employees are on the wish list of every big organization today ...

  25. UPSCFLY || on Instagram: "Upsc prelims paper

    76 likes, 0 comments - upscfly on February 25, 2024: "Upsc prelims paper - I SYLLABUS Part A-Preliminary Examination Paper I -(200 marks) Duration: ..."