Problem-solving and Decision-making are integral part of the effective management functioning. Though all the employees have to encounter these processes it is essential that a manager takes skilful decisions and solve problems with ease, as it is a part of their job roles. It is also critical that a manager takes up proper decisions and solve the problems rightly as it impacts the overall organizational functioning.
Decisions could be referred to as ‘actions that are wilfully selected from the various available alternatives’. Problem solving on the other hand is the act of finding answers to complicated issues and problems. Both of them are inter-linked and usually solving a problem tactfully involves taking the right decisions.
Steps in Problem Solving and Decision Making
- Define the Problem: This is an important step because understanding the problem is crucial, most people get misled here. They react to their perception of the problem but defining the problem clearly helps in gaining clarity. If the problems are complex, breaking and absorbing them in smaller chunks would be effective. It is also good to discuss with someone about one’s perception of the problem, as verification. It is critical to be free of emotional turmoil while defining the problem to make the problem as objective as possible. An objective definition of the problem is many times a problem half solved. If it feels like two or more problems are being met at a time, it would be helpful prioritizing and addressing the crucial problems. Also, one should understand the difference between important and urgent problems.
- Brainstorm Alternatives: In this stage, brainstorming the various lists of possibilities to solve the problem happens. To put it blunt, brainstorming is coming up with as many ideas as possible to solve the issue in hand. More complex the issue more ideas would be required. One could be very creative with the ideas as it would turn out to be effective. It is also useful to involve some other people in this step so different perspectives could arise. Most people make the big mistake of eliminating ideas at this stage. Brainstorming is just about generating as many ideas as possible – even the really crazy ones! Elimination s
- Deciding on the Alternatives: After coming up with pool of ideas each of them is analysed and the pros and cons are evaluated. This process of evaluation aids in narrowing down the options and helps in choosing the most effective and feasible solution. The ideas should be evaluated based on their merit only. It is good to involve critical stakeholders in this process to get an unbiased and balanced view.
- Implementation of the Solution: This is the stage of action. The narrowed down and chosen alternative is actually applied to the problem. This requires a proper plan and good execution. Constant monitoring of the steps is needed. It should be verified that the steps are following the plan.
- Evaluation of the Results: Evaluating the result leads to understand the effectiveness of the alternative. To understand if the plan was successful one should get the idea of what helped and what ideas did not and also try to incorporate changes, in case it did not prove to be effective choose new option from the alternatives.
Characteristics of a Good Problem Solver
- The ability to be open to various option and alternatives rather than being rigid
- A mind-set to view problems as hurdles
- Ability to learn from the situation and avoid repetition of mistakes
- Ability to judge to implement complex or short cut methods to solve problems
- Willingness to hear other people’s ideas and to accept them
- Future oriented approach. They would involve in minimizing the future occurrence of the problem rather than intervening it for time being
Characteristics of an Efficient Decision Maker
- They usually take decisions based on reliable data and evidences
- A good knowledge about different subjects and maturity in handling issues
- Ability to communicate effectively to different groups involved in the process
- They hold responsibility for their choices despite the result
- Evaluates different alternatives before jumping to a decision