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Strategic problem solving is a critical business skill, for both management and front-line workers.For management, a large portion of strategic problem solving involves predicting problems that subordinates might encounter and documenting procedural solutions in advance, often through manuals or logic tree flowcharts.
If this fails, only then would the employee call in a specialist repair technician.
In manufacturing, the machines that drive the enterprise are larger, but the same general rule holds true.
As Karl Popper, one of the most influential 20 century philosophers of science, once eloquently stated, “All life is problem solving.” I’ve often contended that the best leaders are the best problem solvers.
They have the patience to step back and see the problem at-hand through broadened observation; circular vision.
In a manufacturing setting, strategic problem solving most often relates to troubleshooting minor equipment failures.
Management, in consultation with the equipment provider, comes up with a time-effective plan for staff to respond to certain equipment failures.
The typical office printer makes an effective, albeit simplified, example.
If the device fails to print, the employee refers to the strategic problem-solving chart.
But the reality of the workplace finds us dealing with people that complicate matters with their corporate politicking, self-promotion, power-plays and ploys, and envy.
Silos, lack of budgets and resources, and many other random acts or circumstances also make it harder for people to be productive.