Skill Set 10: Solving Problems

Skill 36: Identify Problems
Skill 37: Develop Solutions
Skill 38: Launch Solutions

Effective problem solving starts with an attitude that asks “why not?” Why can’t we do a better job? Problem solvers are into continuous improvement. Problem solving is much more than just pushing around a lot of information. It requires you to use information to form a plan of action and then to make decisions and take action, or talk to others who can help you implement the solution.

The problem-solving Skill Set builds on all nine Skill Sets previously discussed. It requires strong motivation, good communication skills, excellent people skills and good research and analysis skills. In addition, a problem solver must be willing to take risks and to think about the big picture. The willingness to see problems and do something about them is critical for a successful career.

Employers rarely explicitly list problem solving as a key skill, but they do frequently mention critical thinking, initiative, adaptability and leadership. These terms are frequently associated with the employees’ willingness to improve themselves and their organization. Employers want workers who are optimistic about change. They want to hire employees who, in the words of one employer, “know how big the problem is, its frequency, and how long it will take to solve.” Willingness to recognize and provide evidence of problems helps your boss quickly understand what needs to be addressed, which makes him or her ready to listen to your suggestions. Your interviewer may not use the term “problem solving,” but he will be looking for it throughout your interview.