Many employers are recognizing the value and placing significant investments in developing the problem solving skills of their employees. While we often think about these skills in the work context, problem solving isn’t just helpful in the workplace. Here are 10 everyday uses for problem solving skills that can you may not have thought about
1. Stuck in traffic and late for work, again
With busy schedules and competing demands for your time, getting where you need to be on time can be a real challenge. When traffic backs up, problem solving skills can help you figure out alternatives to avoid congestion, resolve the immediate situation and develop a solution to avoid encountering the situation in the future.
2. What is that stain on the living room carpet?
Parents, pet owners and spouses face this situation all the time. The living room carpet was clean yesterday but somehow a mysterious stain has appeared and nobody is claiming it. In order to clean it effectively, first you need to figure out what it is. Problem solving can help you track down the culprit, diagnose the cause of the stain and develop an action plan to get your home clean and fresh again.
3. What is that smell coming from my teenage son’s room?
The problem solving parent knows from experience that the source of the funk is probably in the bottom of the closet or under the bed. The challenge is figuring out how to contain and mitigate the impact and develop an actionable solution to avoid the situation in the future.
4. I don’t think the car is supposed to make that thumping noise
As with many problems in the workplace, this may be a situation to bring in problem solving experts in the form of your trusted mechanic. If that isn’t an option, problem solving skills can be helpful to diagnose and assess the impact of the situation to ensure you can get where you need to be.
5. Why is the baby crying?
Is this just an incident that can be resolved with a diaper change, feeding or some sleep? Or is there an underlying problem like stress, illness or discomfort that requires further investigation and attention? Problem solving skills are a parent’s best friend.
6. My daughter has a science project – due tomorrow
Sometimes the challenge isn’t impact, its urgency. Problem solving skills can help you quickly assess the situation and develop an action plan to get that science project done and turned in on time.
7. What should I get my spouse for his/her birthday?
As with many problems, this one may not have a “right answer” or apparent solution. Its time to apply those problem solving skills to evaluate the effects of past decisions combined with current environmental signals and available resources to select the perfect gift to put a smile on your significant other’s face.
8. Someone flushed an entire roll of toilet paper and water is backing up in the tub.
Uh oh, time to think quickly. There is an urgent situation that must be addressed to contain the impact, a cause to be identified (who is responsible) and an action plan for bringing things back to normal. Problem solving skills can help you avoid panic and the potential for costly cleanup.
9. Proposal deadline got moved up to this afternoon!
You’ve been working on that big proposal for weeks and its down to the final 3 days when your receive a call that the deadline has been moved up to today. Problem solving skills can help you figure out whether you will be able to meet the new deadline and how your approach may need to change.
10. What’s for dinner?
Whether you are planning to eat alone, with family or entertaining friends and colleagues, meal planning can be a cause of daily stress. Applying problem solving skills can put the dinner dilemma into perspective and help get the food on the table and keep everyone happy.
Problem Solving skills aren’t just for the workplace – they can be applied in your everyday life. Kepner-Tregoe can help you and your team develop your problem solving skills through a combination of training and consulting with our problem solving experts.