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Problem Solving – Keep it Simple

Last updated April 16, 2013
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It happens every day doesn't it: a problem that has to be solved. There are those everyday life problems that we solve every day; we just do most of them subconsciously. As a business leader the working day throws up even more problems sometimes they are sudden and unexpected, but sometimes they are complex or deep rooted problems.

In general, we solve everyday problems by ourselves. Perhaps if it is a tricky one, that has several options, is better solved by talking to someone else. The old saying a problem shared is a problem halved.

But business issues are different. Yes, they follow the same problem solving process but they are generally more complex or they require a different type of thinking.

Margaret Mead, anthropologist said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has.”

Problem-solving requires both analytical and creative skills but team working is critical to. So forming a problem-solving team with different people and expertise might be the best solution to help you find the best solution. If you don’t have a problem solving team then it is important that you talk to someone else for a different perspective.

My thanks to the University of Kent for the following story which underpins just how different thinking can solve problems….

Soap Box Story

A large cosmetics company had a problem that some of the soapboxes were coming of the production lines empty. The problem was quickly isolated to the assembly line, which transported the package boxes of soap to the delivery department: some soapboxes went through the assembly line empty.

The management asked its engineers to solve the problem. They spent much of the time and money in devising an x-ray machine with high resolution monitors manned by staff to watch all the boxes on the line to make sure they weren't empty.

A workman on hearing about this came up with another solution. He got a powerful industrial fan and pointed it at the assembly line. As each soapbox passed the fan the empty boxes were blown off the line. Moral: the simplest solution is usually the best!

Related Articles: Nine Essential Skills of Problem Solving and Problem Solving Games

So the next time you are faced with the business problem ask yourself who else can help you solve it? Sometimes the best and simplest help comes from the most unexpected source.

Shirley Mansfield
Master Business Problem Solver

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