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Think it through

October 29, 2012

As a manager, I’m often asked what the key attribute is that I look for in a team member.  The answer is fairly straightforward – the ability to problem solve.

On the face of things, it seems rather simple.  Of course people can solve problems.  However, when you look at the actual process, not too many people are successful at it.

Problem solving truly applies to nearly everything we do, whether it’s request for an analysis or report, a task or project, or an actual problem (i.e. something went wrong and needs to be fixed).  They all follow the same process:

A)     Where do you need to end up?

B)      Where are you at now?

C)      How do you get from B to A?

D)     Execute the steps/tasks from C.

E)      Review the outcome – does it fully address/support the desired outcome?  If not, go back to step A.

As an example, you’ve received a request for a report.  The first step is to assess all the data needed for the report and identify the pieces you have already.  Next, for all the missing information, determine the sources and the requirements for obtaining it.  Get this in process while you start working with the info you have.  Follow up on the requests, and as the information comes in, incorporate it into the report.  Continue until you’ve completed the request.  Assess whether or not the outcome is complete and correct – if not, go back to step one.

It seems so simple, if you just think it through first.

Shawn M. Capistrano

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