On Problem Solving

Had a conversation today with another small business owner. She read recently that one of the strong skills successful small business owners have is that of problem solving. Whether there are production issues, or client issues, or staff issues, or regulations, we have to be able to solve problems. That is what I do, solve problems. I thought of making it a company motto that “We solve your problems” though that is too vague. A professional hitman could use the same line.

As I watch or listen to performances of talented people, in music, dance, the arts, what goes through my mind when I think about talent is that I strive to improve things, to make them work, to find a more efficient way of doing things. “I just want it to work.” That is problem solving. When we solve problems, we improve things, we improve processes, we improve outcomes. At least we strive to.

One aspect that separates excellent employees from average employees is the ability to problem solve. Excellent employees use their skills and experience to solve problems, to deal with an issue. I prefer that over passing the problem to someone else, or procrastinating on it. Sometimes I get questioned on an issue and I want to say “Think! Think about it. Think it through. You know the answer. You don’t need me to tell you.”Even if the action turns out to be wrong, or does not have a good outcome, I try to keep in mind that the person tried, to the best of her/ability, and I work on improving the outcome.

That also brought up the conversation about our school system in which we spend twelve plus years telling our children what to do, how to do it, and what to think. Then we wonder why so many become brainless and get to the point where the highlight of their day is vegetating in front of the TV, usually with a shot of alcohol, so they do not need to think. The world has changed so much in the past two decades, how do we educate people for a world that we cannot conceive of? One of the most valuable skills will be that of problem solving. In this province our school system is failing at that.