7 Habits of Highly Effective Problem Solvers
7 Habits of Highly Effective Problem Solvers (and How to Identify Bad Ones!)
Hi! Welcome back to Lightning Problem Solving where you’ll always get the low down on cutting-edge manufacturing and problem solving techniques! Today we’re going to start the discussion about the habits of highly effective problem solvers, and (bonus!) how to identify the bad ones. At the end of this blog, I’m even going to give you a checklist – for free! It’s like your own cheat sheet to find out if you have champions or duds on the payroll. And I’m telling you guys, it’s probably a little crazy that I’m even giving you this list. Friends keep asking me why in the world would I be giving away my trade secrets like this for free. But I really like to see people succeed!
First, as a freebie just for reading this blog, I’ve put together some awesome questions for you to evaluate whether or not you already have good problem solvers working for you. If you’re the man or woman in charge, you’re going to want to remember these! (I have a printer-friendly version available free, right here: Free Printable Problem Solver Evaluation)
Sneaky Question Number One
The first question to ask is very simple and your employees will never even suspect that you’re evaluating them! Just ask in a very nonchalant tone:
- Can you please give me an update on the project you’re working?
“A good problem solver will be able to update you on their project in only 5 minutes.” Click To Tweet
A good problem solver should be able to update you on their project in only 5 minutes. So if your problem-solver is updating you on their project and they say something like, “Well, this is really complicated…” that’s a BAD sign. It’s going to take an hour for them just to update you! They’re going to explain how complex their project is and try to convince you of how smart they are. This is a bad habit and the first symptom that your problem solver needs some extra training.
Root Cause Question Number Two
The next thing to ask your problem solver is:
- How many root causes have you found this year? and this month?
A successful problem solver will answer with a high number of problems solved. Versus a bad problem solver telling you how complicated their projects are, having solved very few or none of them.
Now, just because someone claims to have solved a lot of problems does NOT necessarily mean they’re a good problem solver either. I’m going to help you make sure! So the next question to ask would be:
Boomerang Question Number Three
- How many of your problems “solved” returned within the last 2 years?
Of course nobody is going to want to admit any of their “solved” problems have come back to haunt them. But hopefully with a little investigation you’ll be able to figure it out.
“A lot of people who call themselves problem-solvers are actually just solution hunters.” Click To Tweet
You’ll find that a lot of people who call themselves problem solvers are actually just solution hunters. Solution hunters are only concerned with finding a “quick fix” to every problem. They might find a LOT of what I call “bandage solutions,” but, the same problems will keep coming back. Duct tape can only hold for so long! Or, even worse, sometimes their quick fix will cause other problems to spring up that weren’t even there before. This is due to the fact that they didn’t identify the Root Cause of the problem before sticking a bandage on it.
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you think you might have a Solution Hunter instead of a Problem Solver working for you? Click here to check out my video called Root Cause vs. Solution for a more in-depth look!
Double Whammy Questions Four and Five
Assuming your problem-solver understands the difference between root causes and solutions, you should also ask them:
- How many Root Causes have you found?
- How many Solutions have you found?
The number of solutions should be higher than the number of root causes identified, if you have a good problem-solver. This is because if they find the actual root cause, there are normally several good solutions. But if they found a solution and you ask them, “Tell me another solution,” and they can’t answer – they probably have a bandage solution and never figured out the actual root cause at all. Bummer.
Ok, here’s that list I promised you at the beginning of this blog! Are you ready? Again, people can’t believe I give out information like this that’s taken my whole career to accumulate, but I really want you guys to be successful.
The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For…
…the Good Vs. Bad Checklist!
(Click here for the free, printer-friendly version: Free Printable 7 Habits.)
1. Good problem-solvers will actively gather data.
- Bad problem-solvers sit at their desks.
2. Good problem-solvers know how to ask questions without emotion and NEVER guess.
- Bad problem-solvers may make emotional guesses.
3. Good problem-solvers don’t need to have any previous knowledge of the problem in order to solve it. They can use contrast to find the root cause quickly.
- Bad problem-solvers will focus on how complex a problem is and justify the amount of money needed for redesign. You can always redesign your problems away, but redesign will introduce new problems.
4. Good problem-solvers know how to effectively rule out and eliminate potential root causes.
- Bad problem-solvers will never close a project… meaning, they have root cause, but will nit-pick it forever waiting for 100% of the problem to go away, when they could solve 85% of it today.
Understand a problem solver should generally say they have identified the main root cause once they can solve over 50% of the problem. Keep in mind there might be a 2nd root cause for the next, smaller percentage of the problem. You’ll want to discuss with your management whether or not it’s worth pursuing further.
5. Good problem-solvers can sort through smart people’s opinions.
- Bad problem-solvers focus on being smart and looking for a complicated answer, when root causes are normally easy and simple.
6. Good problem-solvers will always confirm that they have root cause.
- Bad problem-solvers will not be confident in their root cause.
7. Good problem-solvers will work smarter not harder.
But working hard is much better than sitting at a desk, because problems will not be solved sitting at your desk.
- Bad problem-solvers will sit at their desks and organize long meetings. (And probably be really good at solitaire and have a stellar fantasy football team!)
“Working hard is much better than sitting at a desk, because problems will not be solved sitting at your desk.” Click To Tweet
So there you have it. Those are my 7 Habits of Highly Effective Problem-Solvers. You now have the tools you need in your kit to identify the bad ones, too!
Shakedown and Regroup!
If you found that any of your problem-solvers have some bad habits, it’s not the end of the world. Feel free to give me a call! With a little expert training in the right areas, even your worst problem-solvers can become MacGyvers of Lightning Fast Problem Solving!
Be sure to comment below if this blog has helped you. I want to live vicariously through your success stories! Watch more of my videos and subscribe to my channel so you’ll never miss out on my latest problem solving techniques. Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome day!
PS. If you missed today’s free printables, you can access them here: