IVAN PALOMINO | August 21, 2023
Problem solving is an essential skill for many professionals in today's complex work environment. However, research suggests that traditional problem-solving approaches may not be sufficient to tackle the challenges faced in organizations. To truly excel in problem solving, it is crucial to incorporate a range of "human" skills such as creativity, decision making, emotional intelligence (EQ), and persuasive tactics. In this article, we explore a set of principles that can guide you towards becoming an adept problem solver.
Get to the Root Cause: Applying the "5 Whys" Technique
One fundamental step that many individuals overlook when approaching a problem is identifying the real issue at hand. Rather than applying quick fixes that only address surface-level symptoms, it is important to delve deep into the root cause. The "5 Whys" technique can be a valuable tool in this process. By repeatedly asking "why" in response to a problem statement, one can uncover underlying factors and gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation. Often, it takes asking "why" multiple times, typically around five, to reach the core issue. Embracing this method can help you address problems more effectively.
Cultivate Curiosity and Open-Mindedness
To enhance problem-solving capabilities, it is essential to approach each situation with curiosity and an open mind. Avoid the temptation to prematurely judge or dismiss ideas that may lead to potential solutions. By fostering a mindset of exploration and receptiveness, you can tap into creative potential and uncover innovative approaches to problem solving.
If you want to cultivate curiosity, there are a few things you can do:
Ask questions: One of the best ways to be more curious is to ask questions. When you ask questions, you are actively seeking out new information and new experiences.
Be open to new experiences: Another way to be more curious is to be open to new experiences. This means being willing to try new things and to step outside of your comfort zone.
Pay attention to your surroundings: One of the best ways to stay curious is to pay attention to your surroundings. This means being aware of the people, places, and things around you.
Read widely: Reading is a great way to learn new things and to expand your horizons. When you read widely, you are exposed to new ideas and new perspectives.
Embrace Diverse Perspectives
Successful problem solving often requires considering multiple viewpoints and engaging with all parties impacted by the issue. Taking a holistic approach allows for a comprehensive assessment of the problem's implications and potential solutions. By seeking alternative perspectives, you can uncover valuable insights and generate a broader range of options to address the problem effectively.
Discover Purpose: Unveiling the "Why"
Understanding the underlying motivation behind problem solving is critical to staying committed and focused on finding solutions. You must take the time to reflect on why a particular problem is significant and how solving it aligns with your goals. By clarifying the purpose and value of problem solving, individuals can harness their intrinsic motivation to drive them towards successful outcomes.
Personal Brainstorming: An Effective Starting Point
Before presenting ideas to a group or team, it is often beneficial to engage in personal brainstorming. This approach allows individuals to explore various solutions and generate creative ideas without the pressures of immediate external judgment. By giving oneself the freedom to ideate independently, valuable insights can emerge, setting the stage for more effective collaborative problem solving.
Experimentation and Prototyping
To minimize risks and maximize the potential for success, it is advisable to test out potential solutions through small-scale experiments or prototypes. By implementing a low-impact testing phase, managers and HR professionals can assess the viability and effectiveness of their proposed solutions before fully implementing them. This approach allows for valuable insights, adjustments, and improvements, ensuring a more refined and robust resolution to the problem at hand. An approach of continuous experimentation can have many benefits, including:
Increased learning: When we approach life as a series of experiments, we are more likely to be open to new experiences and to learn from our mistakes. This can lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
Increased creativity: When we are constantly trying new things, we are more likely to come up with new ideas and to think outside the box. This can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying life.
Improved self-confidence: When we see ourselves as capable of learning and growing, we are more likely to feel confident in our abilities. This can lead to a more positive outlook on life and to a greater sense of well-being.
Reduced stress and anxiety: When we are not afraid to take risks or to make mistakes, we are less likely to experience stress and anxiety. This can lead to a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind.
By incorporating these six principles into your problem-solving approach, we can all significantly enhance our ability to address complex challenges effectively. Remember to start by identifying the root cause, approach problems with curiosity and an open mind, embrace diverse perspectives, understand your motivation, engage in personal brainstorming, and test potential solutions through experimentation. By implementing these strategies, you will be better equipped to tackle problems head-on and achieve meaningful resolutions in your professional role. Read More
IVAN PALOMINO | December 03, 2021
Many companies are suffering from the lack of talent to fulfill their business transformation, become more agile and cope with the challenges of an organization being often stressed, overwhelmed and disengaged – according to the latest 2021 Global Leadership Forecast only 11% of companies have a strong Leadership bench.
Often leaders have the knowledge of the typical traits, skills and behaviors for leadership – as they keep themselves consistently informed on what is necessary to be a good leader – the real problem is their capacity for action specially when they are overwhelmed with work or unmotivated to take action when a new behavior is not rightly valued by their company culture. These outcomes are anchored in our human biology: our brain perceives change as a threat due to the uncertainty of the future, generating behaviors that are related to procrastination or simply reducing our motivation for change.
To explain behavioral change – I use a model developed by a Stanford professor: BJ Fogg. According to the Fogg behavioral model: three elements should converge to either create a new behavior, restrict or refine an existing behavior: Motivation, Ability, and Prompt. In the context of learning, these principles can be adapted to nudge people to activate a positive attitude towards change and start producing actions or behaviors towards a specific intention.
The 3 elements of behavioral change to be embedded in the development of leadership are:
Motivation is a volatile element for humans as it may be temporary and often when we have a goal or intention. People may realize that reaching a goal takes effort and motivation could vanish.
Here are some principles to be considered to enhance the level of motivation to achieve change on behaviors:
We tend to engage in behaviors in which achievements are recognized.
Using action trackers to communicate progress and next expectations is a way to engage learners in the optimum flow where actions are kept in control: still within their capabilities but challenging enough. As both boredom (because the challenge is too easy) or anxiety (if too difficult) lead to disengagement.
Deciding on how to act towards a challenge in a risk-free environment enhances engagement in the learning. This is boosted by letting learners set their own learning goals.
The way a facilitator creates a narrative that is personalized, genuine and relatable helps learners engage in different perspectives than their own.
Learners must be able to execute the desired learning actions or challenges. If the step is too difficult, the brain will activate ‘fear of change’ signals that will create friction; learners should be provided knowledge and practice where they are maintained engaged. The actions should be designed short and simple by minimizing efforts such as time to accomplish, money, physical or cognitive resources.
There is a significant positive persuasion to learn and practice when simplifying behaviors such as shorter duration of training (micro-learnings) and practice through small behaviors (micro-habits) that will limit the physical and cognitive effort. Improvements in the ability to change are observed in designed behaviors that have the following characteristics:
Relevancy: the behavior should be done in the context of the learner’s work and be tailor-made to their specific aspiration.
Simplification: learners should be able to perform short and effortless actions—for example, two minutes of planning for the three most important tasks of the day.
Consistency: repetition of micro-habits allows to create rituals that become automated without cognitive efforts. If doing a target behavior causes overthinking, then we do not see the behavior as simple, which harms the brain processing fluency.
Feedback: Prompt feedbacks as learners interact to make it easier for them to adjust their behaviors and maintain their engagement
Despite having the will to achieve specific actions, we tend to forget about them. A recognizable context or situation should be included in a learning program to remind the learner practicing the skill.
To meet today's demand for leadership upskilling, a methodology centred on "learning how to learn" rather than merely transferring knowledge is essential - the list of skills needed to complete a job grows every year. Traditional one-time in-class or elearning trainings cannot have a long-term influence on abilities that require a behavioural shift.
In most cases leaders should learn and practice across two areas: 1. how they manage themselves as an individual (through skills such as awareness, emotional intelligence, agility, etc) and 2. how they inspire others. Covering these 2 areas allows leaders to acquire the mindset, the psychological resources and the skills to be equipped for change and drive the change in others.
In the Middle East, behavioral science in leadership development has been pioneered by the EdTech startup Bessern, with measurable results in organizations performance, wellbeing and employee engagement.
Upskilling leaders requires a shift in learning methodology, where crafting new behaviors is the only proof of success. People can only acquire new behaviors by consistent practice, personalization, continuous feedback, and measurement of progress.
In general, when learning skills with an outcome of long-lasting behavioral change – Consistency beats Intensity: the practice of micro-actions reduces the risk of failure and helps reinforce a mental process that can be easily extrapolated for the acquisition of life or professional skills. Read More