Posted by Meg Soper, 13-04-2015

Many of the client organizations I work with today are faced with complex challenges that call for teamwork and collaboration to solve. This blog will delve into the dynamics of problem solving from the standpoint of individual problem solving styles.

Sometimes we  take short cuts to solve a problem, later regretting that we didn’t take more time to think things through. Let’s face it, we each put our own spin on things. This is not surprising given the diversity of our life experiences, skills, training, and personal values. And when it comes to dealing with a complex problem, it seems we are creatures of habit: prone to using the same old thinking and behaviour pattern.

As a professional speaker, my mantra is getting people to “Shift their Perspective” and make positive change in their lives. I know that if I am going to challenge people to change their ways, then I too had better practice what I preach. In short, be prepared to think differently, be open minded, see situations through a fresh lens, and of course, have fun!

Group problem solving can easily get derailed because of dominant personalities, personal biases, flawed assumptions, or poorly defined problems. In order to combat these tendencies, it is necessary to have the group buy in to a defined process that demands everyone take a step back and re-frame the problem by asking more powerful questions, starting with “How might we…?”.

Read on and find out what your problem solving style is!

What Is Your Problem Solving Profile?

Turns out the quality of the solutions that a team is able to come up with has everything to do with the questions we ask. Too often we rush to solutions without developing a good problem statement.

I learned that there are four stages of problem solving, each corresponding to specific problem solving styles. Just follow the arrows to learn more about the four problem solving styles, their characteristics, and where you want to enlist these skills in the stages of the problem solving process.

It goes like this:

  • Step 1: Generating Ideas
  • Step 2: Conceptualizing the Problem
  • Step 3: Optimizing the Solution
  • Step 4: Implementing Solutions

Problem Solving Style

While each of us is a blend of all of these problem solving styles, generally speaking we each will have one style that dominates. My own style is decidedly that of an Implementer – someone who likes to get to a decision, put it into action, and get on with my day.

So what happens if your team is stacked with Type 4 Implementers like me? Well, you get action, alright! But the problem is that in our Type 4 haste, we may not have taken the time to think things through. In fact we might end up solving the wrong problem!

A team that is a blend and balance of all four styles will very likely come up with a superior problem definition, and ultimately a better solution.

So when it comes to problem solving, if someone seems to be difficult, stubborn, or indecisive, it may simply be that they have a different problem solving style. Ultimately, they are not difficult … they are just different. We all bring different strengths to the team!

>> Meg Soper is a motivational humorist speaker who performs her hit keynote presentations for organizations across North America. Get in touch with her to discuss your next event!

About Meg Soper

Meg Soper is a leading motivational humorist for organizations in North America. Her unique perspective combines the insights and experiences of her last thirty years spent as a Registered Nurse, stand-up comedian, and ultimately a motivational speaker. Meg has co-authored two books and appeared on the CBC Television network, Women’s Television network, and Prime TV as well as on radio and at comedy festivals.