Problem solving follows a process

Supervisors: Adopt a Systematic Problem-Solving

If you are a new leader, please expect that people will come to you. They expect you to solve their problems. And they want you to solve their problems immediately.

They also expect you to solve problems on a first-come, first-served basis, but this will work if everything we do is the same. But leaders do many things. And some of these things are more important, more critical than others.

I was watching Dr. Romantic on Netflix. In many episodes, Dr. Kim kept reminding the doctors that treating patients is not based on a first come, first serve. 

On Fridays, they see more patients than each doctor can take care of. Many of these patients are in critical condition, and every minute counts. Some need to be operated at once, but only two operating rooms exist.

I’ve been to hospitals many times. And often, I noticed that some patients do not have patience for waiting. They come first. They expect to get served first. And in an ideal circumstance, it sounds very fitting. 

But in Dr. Kim’s world, you do not take care of someone who came five minutes earlier. Instead, you take care of someone who needs you most. 

Leaders are like doctors too. 

We can learn from doctors how to solve many of our problems. To solve problems effectively, follow a process. You don’t need to do what comes first. You don’t need to jump into a situation because you feel good about doing it first. 

Some problems are more important than others. Some problems are more urgent than others. And many problems aren’t in life-and-death situations. It would be best to solve them all, but you cannot do them immediately. 

What can you do then?

Like doctors or first responders, you follow a process.

  1. Assess the situation.
  2. Group problems. 
  3. Identify the needs.
  4. Prioritize the critical needs.

Much of what we do in problem-solving is on the problem side. Knowing which problem is more critical will help us decide how to work more effectively.

Sure, not everyone will be happy about it. Many people think they are the most important, not the problem-solving part. So we must find ways to communicate to them why we do what we do. It can be challenging.

In Dr. Romantic, the Chief Surgeon does not need to care for every patient. Dr. Kim delegates.

Leaders must learn how to delegate problem-solving too.

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