How Do You Solve Problems?

All of us at J Street are buzzing around on projects, but we are never too busy to help you solve a problem!

President Armen Stein has earned the Microsoft MVP Award every year since 2006. The award is for technical expertise (for Access in Armen’s case) and community involvement.  There are fewer than 40 Access MVPs in the world!

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Here at J Street, we say that we build and support database applications.  But really, what we do is solve problems.  Every day.  That is our job.  And it’s a skill that we’ve developed.

That’s right – problem-solving is a skill that can be developed and improved, not a mysterious power awarded at birth.  Good problem solvers are needed not only in business and technology, but also everywhere in real life.  Here are some of the aspects I think are important for effective problem solving.

Active Listening
In order to be a good problem solver, you need to actively listen and make sure that you are understanding the facts correctly.  Don’t make assumptions.  Ask questions for clarity.  Summarize and repeat back what you’ve heard.  It’s amazing how often we think we know exactly what the other person meant, and then find out we were way off!

Knowing the Actual Problem
It easy to hear a complaint, then quickly jump to a solution because it’s the one you know.  It’s the classic “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” approach.  A better way is to try to figure out what’s behind the complaint – what’s the root of the problem?  Then work your way forward again.  And be willing to acknowledge that when you find the true problem, you might not be the best person for the solution.  Maybe you should refer it to someone else!

People always say to “think outside the box”, but that’s tough when all you can see is the inside of a box!  If you don’t see a solution, try to break the problem down into pieces, and choose the “impossible” part.  Then imagine what the solution might be if that one impossible piece were magically solved.  This “fantasy” approach can lead to creative solutions you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

There are many times at J Street when one of us has been stuck on a problem, but getting together and talking about it has lead to a solution.  Just explaining the problem to someone else can spark an idea!  That’s why I’m so happy to be part of a team of smart, creative people.  Whether you work independently or in a team, it’s important to cultivate relationships where you can solve problems together.

I’m sure there are other aspects to problem-solving that I haven’t covered – what are some other techniques that you think are important?  I’d love your ideas – reply to this newsletter and let me know!

Contact us for a free consultation – we’re here to help you!

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