Two Effective Problem-Solving Techniques and How to Use Them



You walk into the office, coffee in hand, looking forward to a productive day. Suddenly your manager walks in, he doesn’t look impressed. He approaches you, “I have just had a meeting with the director and our bullying and harassment claims have doubled in the past year. We need to do something about this.”

Do you:

A) Sigh and continue with your work. That issue is way too difficult to deal with on a Monday morning. It will sort itself out.

B) Stare at your wall pondering how you might solve this issue. Hopefully something will come to you when the moment is right.

C) Google creative problem solving ideas so that you are inspired to tackle this.

There are many ways you can approach a problem, some more efficient than others. I am not going to lie, there have been days where I have been faced with an issue that paralysed my creative side, rendered my brain ‘idealess’ and left me feeling like solving the problem was an impossible challenge. This resulted in wasted time, unnecessary anxiety and a problem that sat on a shelf without a solution for way too long. When moments like this happen, there is no need to fear; there is an extensive collection of problem-solving processes that you can follow to ensure an effective solution and we are excited to share two of our favourites. Here they are…

1. Action Mapping

‘Action Mapping’ is “a streamlined process to design training in the business world” (Cathy Moore, 2016). The main thing that I love about this process is that it takes you through the most important part of the problem-solving process, ‘figuring out what the actual problem is’. This may seem like an obvious thing to do right?! It is scary to think how often solutions are implemented that do not actually target the root cause of the problem and are a quick fix to a problem that seems to continue despite your constant efforts.

An example of this is a company who is needing their employees to be more consistent in wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). You may hear, “We need a course on the importance of PPE, what to wear and how to wear it”. This seems like an obvious solution to the problem, right? In reality and after completing your action mapping workshop, which looks at challenges, it becomes apparent that this company has actually not purchased enough PPE for all of its employees and it is not a requirement for employees to purchase their own. So, taking this into account, all the company needs to do is purchase more PPE and advise staff that there is enough for everyone. You can imagine the time that would have been wasted on creating a course on PPE and the return on investment (not great!) when all they needed to do was purchase some more equipment. This is just one of many examples that would happen out there in the world.

I would recommend visiting Cathy Moore’s website (http://blog.cathy-moore.com/start-here/). She has some useful, bright and easy to access resources that support the ‘Action Mapping’ process. Cathy has created something legendary and we wouldn’t want you to miss out. Check out her interactive workflow below. This is a resource that we at Belvista Studios hold very close to our heart. We have also dedicated a blog to the ‘Action Mapping’ process which provides you with some top tips on how you can apply it. You can access it
here.


Action Mapping Workflow at a Glance (Cathy Moore, 2016). 


2. Human-Centered Design

When you are solving a problem, there is often an end-user or target audience who you hope will benefit from the final product. Human-Centered Design is a creative approach to problem solving that puts the end user at the heart of the solution (Acumen, 2018).

An easy trap to fall into is designing a solution that you or your team believe will align with the end-user’s needs, when in reality, it doesn’t. The best way to discover what will work for your end user, is of course by putting yourself in their shoes. Discovering who your target audience is and designing your solution around their needs enables you to provide a solution that works for your user’s context.

So next time you are faced with a problem, have a think about who your target audience or end user is. If we refer back to the PPE example explained in the ‘Action Mapping’ paragraph, in this instance we could say that our end users are the employees at the company (who are not utilising the PPE). If you put yourself in their shoes as the end user, you could imagine that you would probably discover quite quickly that the reason behind the PPE not being used is due to there not being enough equipment.

Here are some tips for taking on a Human-Centered Design view in your problem solving:


1. Immerse yourself in your end-user’s environment to gain a deep understanding of their everyday life, needs and motivations. You can do this by shadowing them or interviewing them.

2. Bring members of your target audience into the room for this process. They will be able to answer context specific questions and provide insight that only a member of that audience could.

3. Brainstorm solutions and test them with your end-user. They will be able to provide you with valuable feedback to support you in coming up with a solution that works for them.

We have dedicated a blog to Human-Centered design so if you are interested and would like to apply it to your problem-solving then check it out here. We have also recorded a podcast on ‘Human-Centered Design’ where we discuss its practical applications and benefits. Check out the podcast here.


'Deep Dive on Human Centered Design' presented by Belvista Studios

Solving problems is a part of human nature and solving them effectively can have a significant impact on your goals and outcomes. There are multiple ways to solve problems, some better than others. These are two problem-solving processes that we find effective here at Belvista Studios. If you have your own problem-solving processes, we would love to hear about it!

I will finish this blog off with a quote from the legendary Albert Einstein.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solutions”.

- Albert Einstein

We have learnt that the importance of taking the time to understand a problem far outweighs the quick win of solving it without a deep understanding of what the problem is. We hope that these processes add value to your craft!

                                                                  References

Acumen. (2018). Introduction to Human-Centered Design. Retrieved from https://plusacumen.novoed.com/#!/courses/design-kit-2018-1/lecture_pages/869913

Moore, C. (2016). Action Mapping Workflow at a Glance. Retrieved from: blog.cathy-moore.com/resources/action-mapping-workflow-at-a-glance/

Moore, C. (2016). Let’s Save the World from Boring Training. Retrieved from: http://blog.cathy-moore.com/








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