Strategic problem solving is a critical business skill, for both management and front-line workers. For management, a big percentage of strategic problem solving involves predicting problems that subordinates might encounter and documenting procedural solutions ahead of time, often through manuals or logic tree flowcharts. Another dimension of strategic planning in management requires a leader know the strengths and weaknesses of staff, assigning personnel to tasks that play to their personal strengths; for example, an outgoing staff member might prosper in either customer support or maintenance, but putting him in customer support takes advantage of his communication skills.
Logic Tree-Based Problem Solving
One of the finest methods to teach creative problem solving is to teach staff in the usage of logic trees. A logic tree problem-solving method allows an in depth exploration of any decision-making scenario, outlining potential outcomes. As each small part of the logic tree is followed, the solver branches out into more specific responses to the issue until she arrives at a set of satisfactory responses based on situation-specific variables.
As well as being a training tool, a problem-solving tree devoted to staff documentation in the form of an easy-to-follow flowchart allows staff to resolve problems the way management wants without having to consult a manager directly. This can be a powerful tool, particularly in a small company setting where each staff member must be as independently effective as possible.
Strategic Problem Solving as a Cost Prevenative Mesasure
In a production setting, strategic problem solving usually pertains to troubleshooting minor equipment failures. Management, in consultation with the gear provider, pops up with a time-effective policy for staff to react to certain equipment failures. The typical office printer makes a highly effective, albeit simplified, example. If the device fails to print, the employee identifies the strategic problem-solving chart. It tells him to find the simplest, most frequent faults first, such as for example checking that there’s sufficient paper, then to go onto less common problems that could result in a similar problem, instructing him to look for a report jam.
Should the tier 2 response fail to solve the issue, the employee would, as directed by the chart, change the ink cartridges and reboot his computer and the printer. If this fails, only then would the employee call in a specialist repair technician. In manufacturing, the machines that drive the enterprise are larger, but the same general rule holds true.
Strategic Problem Solving in Customer Service Applications
Customer support requires pervasive application of strategic problem solving. In this context, problem solving often means dealing with complaints, and a proper policy for handling an upset client is more helpful than simply winging it. A few scripted potential outcomes give staff the equipment they need to resolve customers’ frustrations. Allowing the consumer service agent to provide a tiny discount for affected customers who’re particularly upset can resolve the remaining of complaints with minimal cost.
Intuitive Problem Solving and Small Business
Small business can benefit greatly from applying big business procedural manuals to their day-to-day operations; obviously, small business entrepreneurs and their staff often encounter “firsts,” problems the organization has not encountered before. A company problem-solving journal that details every problem, the attempted solution and the final outcome is an essential tool, and it can serve as a cause for future training material.
Even in case a particular response is not successful, an archive of the function allows the organization to here is another new approach when a similar problem arises. Creating an index of the journal also helps. Page flags work very well for indexing smaller pen and paper journals; for larger records, however, a straightforward to reference digital database is often a better option.