Problem Solve with an Opportunity Mindset

In most organizations, problems occur daily and it is important to address them quickly.

A problem is generally a question or situation that involves doubt, difficulty, uncertainty, or choices. You can tell when there is a problem because there will be roadblocks, confusion, dissension, angry customers, unhappy employees, and many other business dilemmas. In an organization, it is everyone’s responsibility to recognize and resolve problems or they will snowball. Typically, If problems persist it is either because they are being ignored or because the incorrect solution was applied in the first place. 

Let us talk about the importance of having an opportunity mindset when recognizing and resolving problems. This means looking at a problem as an opportunity to grow, learn, collaborate, and innovate. Working through a problem with this mindset will take the stress, anxiety, and impulsiveness out of problem-solving. Otherwise, you will have a higher risk of reacting to problems out of fear, anxiety, or haste. Though time is of the essence when working out issues, it is critical that you respond with competence and skill rather than react with a thoughtless, knee-jerk decision. A decision that may, at most, work in the short run but not the long run.

Embracing an opportunity mindset changes the dynamic from blaming to owning. It is the motivation that drives action and gives everyone a common goal. Think of problem-solving as a fact-finding mission.  This is not done in a silo, it involves other people, various levels of expertise, brainstorming, researching, and timelines. The solving of a problem is a project, and a negative mindset shuts down the process.

Problem causes are usually related to three categories:

  • Physical causes – Tangible, material failures (like the printer stopped working)
  • Organizational causes – A faulty system, process, or policy (like no one knew who was responsible for printer maintenance)
  • Human causes – Someone handled a job, task, project, or situation incorrectly or did not do what was needed (like not providing maintenance for the printer)

Most physical and organizational causes can be traced back to human error. There are many causes for human error like being new on the job, forgetting, or not paying attention. Other causes may be not knowing what to do, moving too fast through a process, or multitasking. Sometimes the employee responsible for the task is the wrong fit and they make mistakes because they are disinterested. There are also situations where the employee does not have the required skills.

Here are some remedies for human error:

  • Make sure all employees receive proper onboarding and thorough training
  • Consistently offer refresher training to keep employees’ skills fresh
  • Document and update all processes so that there is always consistency
  • Develop and post verbal or written reminders and job aids
  • Have a seasoned employee shadow a new person so mistakes can be corrected in real-time
  • Have the new person shadow a seasoned employee who knows the job well

As human beings, we can cause problems and we can solve them, but the ideal diagnosis and result comes from having an opportunity mindset and involving others. What pain points are you dealing with right now that you are solving in a silo?  How can you shift to an opportunity mindset?

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