Problem Solving- ON & OFF THE PITCH
When problems occur, a leader's ability or an academy players ability to respond and resolve issues in a swift and positive manner often comes under scrutiny. Here are 10 thoughts to consider?
OVER OR AROUND?
All problems have two things in common: goals and barriers, so problem solving is about identifying the barriers to achieving your goal, then figuring out how to remove them. If you come to the conclusion that the barriers can't be removed, you may have to find another way to reach your goal. There is always an alternative route and sometimes it is a better one.
NO SHORT CUTS
Most problems of significance need to be tackled in stages if they are to have successful and sustainable resolutions. A popular tool is the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle in which you first identify the problem, then look for possible solutions before deciding on the best course of action. The chosen solution should then be put to the test, ideally on a small scale at first before it is scaled up. Finally, you'll need to monitor it to see how effectively it has worked.
Don't get phased by what first appears to be a barrier to progress. While a problem might slow you down temporarily, it can also be a real opportunity to change things for the better and ultimately can present you with a faster route to success. Problems often allow us to take different perspectives and to find the courage to innovate and try out new ideas. This new focus can help to re-energise and motivate the whole team.
THROW AWAY THE RULE BOOK
What skills does the expert problem-solver have in his or her toolkit? They are likely to include analytical ability, initiative, logical reasoning, persistence and lateral or creative thinking. People with lateral thinking or who can 'think outside the box' are able and unafraid to go against the grain and look at problems from unconventional and unexpected perspectives. Encouraging a culture of creative thinking in your team can pay dividends when problems arise.
PHONE A FRIEND
The 'clash of ideas' approach to problem solving was introduced in the 1970s. The concept is based around certain fundamental assumptions, the first being that we adopt an initial perspective of a problem based on our personal experiences and perceptions. When we try to persuade others to agree with us it strengthens our belief in our rationale, but when confronted with alternative viewpoints we begin to have doubts. Because we want to feel confident in our decisions, these doubts cause us to seek more information and so build a better case. In other words, when looking for the best solution to a problem it can help to seek opinions and perspectives that clash with our own.
It's all well and good saying, "we should have known that would happen" after the event, but hindsight is far less useful than foresight. If you consider everything that could possibly go wrong at the planning stages, any problem solving later on tends to be quicker and simpler than if it hits you out of the blue.
TAKE YOUR TIME
When you're under pressure and a problem raises its ugly head, it's natural to want a quick fix so you can turn your attention back to business. Unfortunately, solutions that are rushed or ill thought-through often only scratch the surface or tackle the wrong issue altogether. Acting in haste can also prevent you from seeing any opportunities that may present themselves.
Effective problem solvers understand that any problem can and will be solved, just not necessarily in the time-frame you have set out. Persistence, patience and a genuine belief that a solution will be found, if not now then later, are essential.
A problem is like a weed; if you only address the visible parts it will keep on reappearing, time and again. Consider whether there may be deeper, underlying issues that need to be addressed for the problem to go away permanently. Root Cause Analysis is about identifying the origin of a problem by tracing back to the source and figuring out how the sequence of events resulted in the problem you have today. Only then can you fix things for good.
A PROBLEM SHARED
It's difficult to get to grips with the real nature of a problem – its root causes, effects on the team and the potential impacts of any possible solutions – without good communication with everyone concerned. Great leaders will have laid the groundwork by creating a culture of transparency, honesty and open dialogue.
Good luck to our Lichfield City Academy students.