Solution-Oriented Problem Solving

How to Apply Solution-Oriented Problem Solving?

Have you ever thought about the way you approach a specific problem? Do you focus on the limitations, or do you focus on finding a solution? Many people fall victim to the blame game focusing on flaws and weaknesses rather than coming up with a solution.

by Amy Q.

How to Apply Solution-Oriented Problem Solving?

What is solution oriented problem solving?

As the name suggests, it is all about focusing on the solution than the problem.

The end goal of this type of approach is to come up with a clear and quick solution. This solution can relate to any aspect of life.

You can use this approach in your work, personal life, and anywhere else. The idea is to come up with a solution. You must be wondering how that happens and the process behind it.

However, there is no one straightway to have this approach. It all begins with the kind of mindset you have. All great leaders have a solution-oriented mindset, and that is what makes them great.

Here are a few things every solution-oriented person does or has to help you understand this well.

You can’t solve a problem unless you get to root cause. This helps you understand the issue in a much deeper way, and so you can then come up with reasonable solutions to solve such a problem.

All great leaders use the “why” approach to solve problems. It helps look at the problem with a unique lens, and they can then get to the root to have a clear answer to the challenge.

Embrace Problems As Opportunities

Every problem we face is a learning experience. It is all about shifting perspective to view issues as learning opportunities rather than the end of the world.

They don’t take the self-pity or blame game approach. People make the most of these problems by being passionate about finding a solution. This is something all great leaders in every industry have; the drive to find a solution.

Separate Emotions And Admit The Existence Of A Problem

Being solution-orientated means that you don’t let your emotions get in the way of finding a solution. You separate the facts and feelings and look at the problem from an objective lens. Such leaders focus on the issue and utilize other people to gain more insight rather than attributing blame.

It also means to acknowledge a problem exists in the first place. When leaders provide an environment where people can openly admit problems, they get better at finding solutions. This is because transparency and honesty go a long way in being solution-oriented.

In short, being solution-oriented is all about developing such a mindset. It takes time and effort and doesn’t happen in a day. This is why it is crucial to understand what this approach entails so you can also curate such a mindset to help you in the workplace and your personal life.

The Difference Between Being Problem Focused And Process Focused

Being problem-focused won’t get you anywhere because such a lens is all about brooding over the problem rather than putting your mind to work to find a solution.

Problem-oriented people will take longer to find a solution because their mindset is focusing on the problem. This will eventually make you feel helpless, and you will not be able to tackle the problem clearly and quickly.

On the other hand, people who are process focused look at the solution. They know they have the power to change any situation, and so they take the necessary steps to find a solution and use the process as a growth opportunity.

Here are a few examples of the difference between people who are problem-focused and solution-oriented.

Example #1

Problem Focused: This doesn’t fit in the budget, so it has to be taken out.

Solution-Oriented: How can I find ways to make it fit in my budget?

Example #2

Problem Focused: I wish I could do “A” but can’t do it because of “B”.

Solution-Oriented: How can I work around “B” to get “A”?

Example #3

Problem Focused: Why me?

Solution-Oriented: What is this trying to teach me?

These are the three primary examples of people who are either problem-focused or process focused. As you can see, brooding over the problem only identifies your limitation and weaknesses.

On the other hand, being solution-oriented is all about using everything as an opportunity for growth. It is about working in different ways and paths to find one that is the best solution to a problem.

Here are a few traits that attributed to more problem-focused people:

  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Attributing blame on others
  • Wallowing in self-pity
  • Negative mindset
  • Quickly feeling irritated or agitated by the problem
  • Giving up instantly

Here are a few traits attributed to great leaders who focus on the process and the solution:

  • Hopefulness
  • Taking charge
  • Resilience in the face of a problem
  • View problems as opportunities to grow and learn
  • Taking responsibility
  • Positive mindset

If you notice the difference, more problem-focused people have a negative mindset because looking at the problem with a distorted lens.

However, people who are process focused and solution-oriented have a positive mindset. They don’t let anything come in their way and use every opportunity to learn and grow rather than use it to place blame and feel helpless. This is why training your mind to be solution-oriented is a powerful thing you can do. When your mind is engaged and bursting with creativity and positivity, you will find an innovative solution. After all, that is what great leaders do.

Practical Approach to Being Solution-Oriented

By now, you must be wondering how you can apply what you just learned in real life. Well, not to worry because there are practical ways you can use this mindset.

Do remember that this is not just a one-time solution. These are small and practical habits that you need to apply in your daily life. Doing so will help you have a mindset that can find answers to any problem, be it at work or in your personal life.

Here are a few practical ways of being solution-oriented:

Ask The Right Questions

Asking questions is a part of our daily routine, especially when we are at work. However, you must ask the right questions in the first place.

For example, imagine you are working in retail, and you need to increase the number of customers that visit your store. Instead of asking why you aren’t able to get more customers, try asking what you can do to get more customers.

If you keep on focusing on the problem, you will fall down a rabbit hole of self-pity and despair. This is why you should have an approach that is all about finding the answers rather than questioning the problem.

Lead A Systematic Approach

You don’t have to tackle everything at once. Break down the problem into multiple pieces and then address them all one by one. This is because just one problem can have numerous facets that you won’t notice if you tackle it all at once.

This is why it is vital to break down the problem. Once you have done this, it is time to formulate an effective plan to tackle the issue at hand.

Brainstorm and jot down all your ideas so you can have different options at hand. You can then assess these options and figure out what suits best to the problem you have at hand.

Ask the right questions and gather as much information as you can that is related to the problem. This way, you will have a more favorable result. Also, remember to track the progress of your solution.

This is so you can quantify the effectiveness of the solution, and if it is not working well, you can implement another strategy. Leading a systematic approach is all about breaking down the problem and tackling every issue so the problem can be solved holistically.

Take Insights From Others

You can’t do everything alone, that is not practical. Even great innovators have a few people that helped them become who they are right now. This is why you should engage people who have something to add to the problem at hand.

Anyone who is engaged or affected by the problem should be included while finding a solution. This is because we all have limited perspectives, and it is always great to have more at disposal. This will help you gain insight into the problem in a way you didn’t before. You can ask for help from colleagues, coaches, mentors, and other people you think can provide you with valuable insight.

Take A Step Back To Reflect

Sometimes we are too deeply invested in a problem to think clearly. If your car gets stuck in the mud and you keep accelerating so it can move forward, well, that won’t happen. It will have the opposite effect, and you will be much more rooted in the mud.

This same analogy can be applied when you are looking for a solution to a problem. Instead of going and going just to solve the problem, you must take a step back to reflect on what is happening objectively.

This will clear your head, and you can tackle the problem again with a better mindset that is more positive and not stuck. If you ever feel stuck in a problem, take a step back, do something you enjoy and love, and then tackle it again.

Solution-oriented leaders don’t burn themselves out. They take a break when they need one, and so should you. This will help you stay hopeful and objective while solving any issue.

Decision-Making Processes – Which One Is The Best For Your Organization?

Every leader has a different approach to making decisions. This also affects the ability of the entire organization to be more problem-focused or solution-oriented.

This is why it is essential to understand the different decision-making processes that leaders use. You can then develop a solution to identify which decision-making process is the best for a solution-oriented organization.

Analytical Decision Making

This is a type of process that takes into account a lot of information before deciding the best course of action. Leaders that use this approach of decision making rely on facts, data, or their observation.

They take their time and then don’t rush their decisions. However, they also receive input from other people so their knowledge can either be denied or confirmed.

Don’t get this wrong, though, and such leaders still like exercising control over their decisions and so the input they take is limited. This can often lead to problems such as over-analyzing, which can lead to the wrong decision being made.

This is a fact-based approach and can be helpful in situations where management is involved. However, this style should not be wholly relied on by a leader.

Directive Decision Making

Leaders that follow this style of decision making are more rational and don’t like being ambiguous. They tend to rely on their logic, experiences, and knowledge. They rarely go to others for more information or knowledge on the subject.

This makes the leader come up with a quick and precise decision, and they move forward quickly. They take charge and action rather than involving everyone and taking their time to make a decision.

However, the downside of this type of decision-making style is that such leaders don’t communicate or involve others. They can’t take conflicting opinions, and they have problems with taking advice from other people.

This is why this style of communication does not suit when a new plan is to be created. It is also not suited when a situation is extremely uncertain. It is usually best for decisions that have a clear cause and effect relationship.

Behavioral Decision Making

Leaders that follow this style value relationship and love maintaining harmony within the organization. They put everyone else’s needs above their own, which reflects how they make decisions as well.

They gather information from other people and use them to come up with solutions. They also ask for advice before they go forward with a decision. This is a great way to include other members of the organization and make them feel important.

Although the problem with this style is that such leaders don’t handle conflict well. They struggle with this, and they don’t trust their abilities either. This is why they can get lost in other members’ opinions because they need to please other people.

This can be stressful for them, and the decision may not be well-thought-out because of so many differing opinions.

Conceptual Decision Making

Such leaders prioritize collaboration and creativity. They think ahead, and they come up with innovative solutions to any problem. This is because they consider many angles and perspectives before making a decision.

They are great at seeing the connections between different issues, and this is why they will always offer a unique perspective on any matter. They recognize problem areas and come up with practical solutions.

However, the problem with this type of decision making is that it is not suitable for questions where you can’t have room for error. This is because they don’t always work out. It is also essential not to use this style when you are looking for quick solutions and results.

Sociocratic Decision Making

This is a decision-making style that is rooted in inequality. This means that all members have an equal say in the decision and the responsibility of the decision.

It is a circular structure for decision making. For example, every department and its members are a team (circle). However, at the organizational level, the head of every department forms a group (circle). This is because they represent their department and team.

Input from every representative is taken, and it is based on the notion of consent, not the popular majority vote. This means that every member has to consent to the decision for it to move forward.

Anyone can have objections, and they are allowed to highlight those objections. However, if their opposition is not too significant and they still consent to the decision, it can be executed.

This is the best solution to all decision-making styles because it takes input, encourages co-operation and communication, and is efficient. It allows the decision to be executed as long as the entire group has consented to it.

It allows every representative and team member to be heard and included and looks at a problem through a solution-oriented lens. It also boosts learning and growth within an organization. After all, communication and co-operation are necessary for an organization to work smoothly.

When Is Sociocratic Decision Making The Right Approach?

Of course, one style can’t be for everything. The other decision-making processes are also useful, but to fully maximize the benefit of the sociocratic approach, you need to understand when to use it.

This approach fits best for companies that promote innovation and forward-thinking. The inclusion of every member maximizes this creativity and innovation and supports the right decision.

A real-life example of a company using sociocratic decision making is that of a Dutch company known as Het Buitenschoolse Net. This company uses this method from the beginning. Meanwhile, around 90% of the workforce is committed to the business. This commitment reflects in their performance and provides an environment in the workplace that is healthy and competitive at the same time.

Another instance is that of a German company producing equipment of laser. It was found that the efficiency in production increased by 20% once they started using the sociocratic decision-making approach.

Another study done took data from 5 businesses. These businesses implemented sociocratic decision making, and all of them were known to achieve the following through this implementation:

  • High level of commitment by employees
  • Better co-operation
  • Better communication
  • The quality of decisions improved by a significant margin
  • Boost in the efficiency of the workforce

Boost in the quality of meetings held by the organizations

This goes to show that any business can use the sociocratic approach when it comes to making decisions. It is solution-oriented and promotes healthy traits that every organization needs to work well. If you want a team to work together, apply this approach.

It is a tool that is deeply embedded in research and ethical business practices. This is why you should apply this tool to your business as well. Soon you will see the results and how well your organization starts working once this tool is applied to the decision making process.

Final Words

A good leader can make all the difference when it comes to the success of the organization. This is why they should have a solution-oriented mindset to lead the business towards a path of success.

They need to be able to come up with solutions using the right approach. This is because other team members also rely on them, and one wrong decision can affect an organization in various ways.

This is why you must promote a solution-oriented mindset in your organization and implement a sociocratic decision-making approach. It has proven extremely fruitful for many companies, and it can do the same for yours.

Creativity, collaboration, and co-operation are the foundations of a successful business. Use the solution-oriented and sociocratic approach to lay these foundations so your organization can reach success!


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