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Business Skills:

Problem Solving

Effective Problem Solving in Business

By: Brian Tracy. Used by permission.

 

Your ability to communicate is the most important skill you can develop to get on to the fast track in your career. Perhaps the most important thing you do in business is to solve problems and make decisions, both by yourself and with other people.

Use a Systematic Process. A major type of communication in the business organization is meetings for problem solving and decision making. The key to effective problem solving and decision making discussions, is for you to all go through the process systematically.

 

Define the Problem Clearly. Right at the beginning, you ask the question, "What exactly is the problem?" Clarity of definition will resolve 50% of the issues before they go any further.

Focus on the Future. When discussing a problem, be sure to focus on the future over the past. Ask the question, "Where do we go from here? What do we do from here? What are our options for the future?" Too many problem-solving discussions end up focusing all of the attention of all the people present on what happened in the past and who is to blame. The effective executive uses this type of communication to focus on where the company and the individuals are going, and what can happen in the future - the only part of the equation over which anyone has any control.

Talk About the Solutions. A second element in effective problem solving communications, is for you to talk about the solutions instead of talking about the problems. It is for you to keep the attention of the individuals in the meeting focused on the possible solutions and what can be done rather than what has already happened.

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Release Creativity. The discussion of solutions is inherently positive, uplifting and has a tendency to release creativity amongst the group. A discussion of problems is inherently negative, demotivating and tends to inhibit creativity.

Think Positively. You can become a positive thinker simply by becoming a solution-oriented person rather than a problem-oriented person. If you get everyone in your organization thinking and talking in terms of solutions, you will be astonished at the quality and quantity of ideas that will emerge.

Action Exercises. Now, here are two things you can immediately to become a better problem solver and decision maker.

  1. Take some time to be absolutely clear about the problem that is under discussion. Give some thought to what an ideal decision or solution would accomplish. Instead of focusing on the situation as it is, talk about the situation as you would like it to be.

  2. Keep the conversation focused on solutions, on what can be done in the future. The more you think and talk about solutions, the more positive and creative everyone will be and the better ideas you will come up with.

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