2014’s here and all that I can read about is the need for more; be it in any business or industry (more transparency, regulations, innovation), or any profession (increased standards, requirements for expertise), or even personal lives (needing a mortgage, increased school fees for your kids or yourself). This increase in demand for most things isn’t new, its just more rapid because of globalisation.
For a local business, this can be threatening, considering the fact that there are a lot of multinational corporations that come with expatriate skills, advanced learning and better economies of scale. This in effect, can be the difference between the bottom-line and making a loss. The conversation of focusing on profits is no more in the stagnant yet niche-competitive markets in Botswana.
This in effect, boils down to one skill that isn’t learned, can’t necessarily be taught or quantified for any business, profession or qualification. That is the skill of problem solving. In as much as we have standards, policies and processes in place, the reality of life is that there is always exception and circumstance to any transaction or activity.
This has resulted in problem solving skills being a paramount talent for any employee, but in this day and age of technology, big data and disruptive innovation, we need more than just the ability to identify a problem and provide a solution to it.
By definition, in my opinion, a Problem Solver merely requires a diagnosis and remedy. Whereas my point for this article, is the need to start looking at Solutions Building. Solving problems is essential now more than before in the challenging day to day environments, but why should we always be on the look out for something going wrong? Or rather always reacting to problems that keep popping up? And how do we identify this in a job candidate?
I have come to realise how essential solutions building is:
1) It goes beyond the process of diagnosis and remedy and looks at the underlying roots of the problems
2) Sometimes it isn’t even a problem you’re solving but rather making an enhancement, which means solutions building is a more kaizen (continuous improvement) approach to daily activities
3) Solutions building is the result of not depending on one outcome (good/bad) when trying to solve a problem, it is made of several attempts at problem solving and looks at how to better that outcome
4) Solutions building requires action, as a follow up of decision making. It is not complete until there is a favourable outcome.
5) Solutions building is a part of innovation. Its can doing the same thing in a different manner.
So here’s another demand to be considered: building a capacity of solutions building rather than problem solving, if this cannot guarantee sustainability, at least it should provide competitive advantage.