Problem Solving

October 25th, 2017 saw managers, supervisors (Pharmacy division), HR staff and office staff of HERD Group of Companies attending training on problem-solving. Mr Ramesh Sangare, the facilitator began the first session by recounting his experiences in a rural setting in a bid to explain the all pervasive nature of issues and problems that affect us all, including villager’s civic lives. It is appalling that even today people are not aware of problems and how they can be resolved for their best interests.

After an initial listing of problems presented by the participants, the facilitator remarked that in truth people definitely faced problems in all walks of life. Problems are really challenges that spur progress. This is apparent and we have witnessed it through the ages. It is because humans have the faculty of reasoning that sets them apart from other species and so we have inbuilt skills for problem solving. These skills are effective and can be learned through problem-solving trainings that offer systematic approaches to resolving issues.

We first need to understand problems, see them in the face, and then resolve them. The training programme provided overall framework in order to guide participants to plan effectively to sort out their unique problems through a clear understanding and structured approach. Through telling accounts of true inspiring problem solving stories, the facilitator brought out the benefits of problem solving techniques. The programme offered a robust approach to bear on real business challenges to be used in all sectors of business.

Participants were made to undergo several exercises to drive home the point as to how to develop their problem solving skills. These included games and group sessions for out-of-the- box thinking and learn how to tackle issues they may be facing by following logical as well as creative processes. By focusing on the right problems employees can examine what problems to take on for resolution so as to ensure that efforts were spent suitably.

The fact of the matter is that anything that deviates from favourable expectations creates problems. All kind of hurdles, failures, conflicts, loss, blockades, sanctions and unexpected, unwanted, undesirable elements lead to the creation of problems in the workplace. We need to develop a range of creative and logical options to develop and adopt ways to build viable and suitable choices to overcome issues. Once we have answers lined up we can save time by understanding how to deal with each problem. This way we do not spend additional time in resolving problems.

The other thing is we should learn from our mistakes as well as from our successes. Here on we can develop processes to actively review situations and likewise follow pre-decided approaches to solving problems that work for our company. There can be endless ways to resolve issues. This was aptly demonstrated by the 20 odd participants who surprisingly could find 70 creative uses of an ordinary ball point pen besides its sole function of writing! Providing the example of Japan’s rise after its demolition in the wake of the Second World War, it was the Kaizen principles that brought the country back on its feet. Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement. Originally introduced to the West by Masaaki Imai, today Kaizen is recognized worldwide as an important part of an organization’s long-term competitive strategy.

The one-day training concluded with reference to Jay Brown’s book – Nobody’s Perfect. The trainer said that managers should adopt a step-by-step problem solving process and provide an accessible approach to problem solving. They need to be appreciative and encouraging of the teams working under them.  A lot of problem solving effort is wasted because it tries to solve the wrong problem. Managers should take the time to ensure the focus of their efforts is right which is an essential first step.

Managers must always be focused on the desired outcome and where is it that they want to reach. With this end in view they should tackle to create ideal solutions. Often the solutions and ideas to resolve issues should also be solicited from staff and it is in this that ideas will be developed. So brainstorming and arriving at a consensus should be key elements to help in finding options and making choices. It is only then that the company can establish a range of ways of evaluating and selecting the ‘best’ solution to a problem.

One needs to take the right action in order to decide what is important, but so is making sure that you have thought of everything before committing yourself. Problem solving is to be a process that improves over time. Reviewing over time as to what has and hasn’t worked is an essential last step so that you can continually refine your approach to problem solving. One definitely needs to add creative techniques so as to get the best out of a situation.

The training programme certainly provided a robust understanding and offered a framework that can be used to tackle problems. Creativity techniques can be used to compliment the framework introduced during this problem solving training. The most popular method would be to use our creativity by logical thinking and generating apt ideas. Successful organizations are those that can rely on critical thinking and creativity at the same time to generate inventive solutions to everyday problems. The training programme had the participants understanding the need to leverage left and right brain thinking to gain knowledge and skills to analyze problems, spur creativity, and implement innovative ideas in a practical way at the workplace.