Back to Basics: Problem-solving Mindsets to Move Your Company Forward

June 20th, 2023 – SkillCycle

Two hands in front of a computer screen solve a complex Rubiks cube

From sparking innovation and making better decisions to fostering collaboration and adaptability, people with strong problem-solving skills can have a big impact on your business. 

The nature of work continues to evolve, and employees will need to build the skills needed to solve complex problems, according to Gartner.

Many employers focus on solving the challenges facing their organization with widely-accepted approaches in the hopes of simply keeping up. With a wider lens, it becomes easier to open up possibilities that could solve or shift longstanding challenges or inefficiencies in the workplace. 

In this article on problem-solving mindsets, we’ll explore:

  • A closer look at problem-solving mindsets
  • Common problems faced by growing organizations
  • 7 benefits problem-solving skills can unlock for your company
  • How to cultivate a problem-solving mindset

What is a problem-solving mindset?

Problem-solving is “the process of identifying a problem, developing possible solution paths, and taking the appropriate course of action,” says MIT. A problem-solving mindset is a way of thinking that focuses on finding solutions rather than fixating on the challenge and the complications it may be causing. 

Six problem-solving mindsets drive success in organizations, according to McKinsey. They include deep curiosity, allowing for imperfect solutions, viewing challenges through multiple lenses, experimenting, inviting input from others, and helping people envision the solution you’re seeking.

All of these approaches can lend depth and creativity to your ultimate understanding of a problem and the success of your proposed solution. The more uncertainty present in your circumstances, the more vital problem-solving is to adapt to new challenges in real time.

Complex issues demand creative solutions. Nurturing great problem-solving skills in your team will serve you well when you face uncertainty.

Robust problem-solving skills can help you consider problems from all angles, question assumptions, consider what outcomes might be better than your current situation, and untangle whether larger issues are at hand.

Common problems faced by growing organizations

Organizations today face a range of common issues that can vary based on their industry, size, and specific circumstances. These challenges may overlap or vary in significance depending on the specific context and nature of your business, but could include any of the following.

Internal difficulties your company may be navigating include:

  • Talent acquisition
  • Employee engagement
  • Succession planning
  • Advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
  • Change management
  • Social responsibility

Pressures can also come from external sources and are no less critical:

  • Market volatility
  • Competition
  • Emerging technologies
  • Economic fluctuations
  • Labour market trends
  • Globalization and expanding markets

7 benefits problem-solving skills can unlock for your company

Great problem solvers see problems as opportunities to grow or level up from the status quo. They can help talented teams get unstuck and drive the overall success and growth of their organizations. 

When given the resources to tackle challenges with curiosity and an open mind, the best problem solvers on your team can lead you to better solutions, driving positive results.

1. Increased efficiency

Great problem solvers have the ability to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks within processes, systems, or workflows. By addressing these issues, they can streamline operations, optimize resource allocation, and enhance overall efficiency. These shifts can create cost savings, improved productivity, and smoother operations.

2. Expanded innovation

Thinking creatively can lead to innovative solutions that go beneath the surface to address the root causes of issues. It can bring fresh perspectives and approaches to challenges, enabling the organization to overcome obstacles and seize new opportunities. The ability to think outside the box promotes a culture of innovation and continuous improvement within the organization.

3. Enhanced decision-making

Problem solvers excel at analyzing complex situations, evaluating options, and making well-informed decisions. They gather and analyze relevant data, consider various perspectives, and assess potential risks and benefits. Their analytical skills and critical thinking contribute to sound decision-making processes, which in turn positively impact the organization’s strategic direction and outcomes.

4. Adaptability

Strong organizations are adaptable and flexible in the face of change. They embrace challenges and uncertainties, viewing them as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles. With strong problem-solving skills, your team can navigate and address unexpected situations helping your company stay agile and responsive in dynamic business environments.

5. Stronger collaboration

Problem solvers must embrace open mindedness and often possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills. They can effectively engage and collaborate with individuals across different teams and hierarchies in the organization. By fostering collaboration and open dialogue, problem solvers encourage knowledge sharing, cross-functional cooperation, and the development of innovative solutions through collective efforts.

6. Employee engagement and satisfaction

A culture of effective problem-solving contributes to higher employee engagement and satisfaction. When employees see their concerns being addressed and problems being resolved, they feel valued and motivated. Great problem solvers create an environment where employees feel supported, empowered, and encouraged to contribute their ideas and solutions, leading to a more engaged and productive workforce.

7. Ongoing improvement

Strong problem solvers have a mindset of continuous learning and improvement. They proactively seek opportunities to identify and address recurring issues, preventing them from becoming chronic problems. By promoting a culture of learning and growth, problem solvers foster a spirit of innovation and continuous improvement throughout the organization.

How to cultivate a problem-solving mindset

To help nurture problem-solving within your teams, begin by allowing employees and leaders to embrace curiosity and uncertainty. Highlight the importance of flexibility, experimentation, and iteration to navigate challenges and help the organization adapt as new demands appear.

Repeatedly tackling the same challenges with the same tools might keep employees busy, but it won’t drive real change in your business. And you may end up losing your best performers, who may feel their talents are going unused. Instead, foster a culture of continuous learning and development within your organization, encouraging employees to embrace challenges, learn from failures, and persist in finding solutions. 

Emphasize the importance of using data to drive problem-solving across the organization and refine strategies to drive tangible benefits. Analytics can help you identify trends, patterns, and insights that inform decision-making processes.

The more of these qualities you can encourage in your workplace, the greater your odds of successfully managing change as industries and markets evolve over time. It’s also less likely that you’ll be knocked off course by changing conditions or new demands. Instead, you’ll have a team ready to get curious and tackle new issues as they arise. 

No matter your industry, strong problem-solving skills contribute to your organization’s success, competitiveness, and advancement in today’s complex and rapidly evolving business landscape. 

Ongoing learning opportunities to elevate these critical skills across your workforce can have a lasting impact.


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