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How to Creatively Solve Problems and Make Decisions as a Team

This article was based on episode 262 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of the Modern Manager community get a 30 Day free trial to Dr. Sam’s Reset Program for Leaders. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


Problem solving is an essential skill for the modern workplace. Yet few managers have a good system in place that brings people together to tackle challenges. Too often we often fixate on the problem without stepping back to look at the bigger picture or people involved. Dr. Sam Adeyemi, a strategic leadership expert and author, has learned promising practices for creative problem solving and decision making. Here, Dr. Sam leads us through the three essential elements to dynamic problem solving, plus offers an effective decision matrix tool for finding solutions by looking through alternative perspectives.


3 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS TO CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING


1.Start With The Bigger Picture

While it may seem peripheral to the challenge right in front of you, Sam cautions us not to dive right in. Your team needs to know why they exist. What are you trying to accomplish? If we don’t know on a macro level where we’re headed, it’s much harder to make the smaller, micro decisions to get there. Any problem that arises needs to be viewed within the context of what the team is striving for.


Motivation is also greatly impacted by knowing your vision. It’s hard for teams to motivate themselves to work through a thorny situation if it feels meaningless or they’re not sure that what they’re doing matters. Take time to articulate your team or organization’s vision. If we know where we’re going, we’re more likely to actually get there.


2. Look At Who’s In The Room

Your team is your most important asset. How a manager treats their people impacts whether those folks feel a sense of power and value. Remember that everyone on your team has something important to contribute. It’s your job as a manager to help your staff figure out what strengths they can bring to the table. You can then leverage each person’s talent to solve problems collaboratively. It’s amazing what we can do when we combine our different personalities and perspectives. Give people the space and support to figure out how they can best show up for the collective win.


3. Brainstorm Better

Generating good ideas is obviously the heart of problem solving. Group brainstorming is the best way to get people to start generating creative solutions. Before you gather your people, first give them time to think about the problem and consider solutions on their own. The average mind takes seventy two hours to become comfortable with a new idea, so you don’t want to throw an idea at them at a meeting before they’ve had time to think it through.


Get everyone together and start a collective mind map. Remember, to involve a broad set of people to ensure you’ve got an expansive set of perspectives. Collect as many ideas as possible. Even a “bad” idea can spark a brilliant one. Brainstorming as a group also helps to address any blind spots we might have or address how to integrate issues with various departments. Trust your intuition; if something doesn’t feel right, follow your gut. See if it leads to any holes in the solution that people aren’t calling out.


EXPLORE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES


Before landing on a decision, it can be extraordinarily helpful to consider various perspectives. This helps the team understand the dynamics involved. First, look at the People Affected by the decision. What do they think about the potential decision or options? How would it benefit them? How might it harm or hinder them? Often the decision makers and those affected are not the same. By examining the impact of our decisions, we may change how we go about them.


Next, look at the Product. Is it meeting people’s needs? Whose needs is it meeting? If the product isn’t satisfying the ideal customers, it raises questions about how you want to proceed.


Then examine the Planning. What are your targets and goals? What’s working and not working? How does this decision impact your budget, costs, time, and people involved? Calculate where you are and how this decision will help get you to where you want to go.


Lastly, consider Potential. How can you multiply and scale for maximum benefit? Does this decision create new opportunities?


When we look at our options from different lenses, it generates ideas that aid us to make the best choices for our business. Sometimes you will see similar themes popping up across the four areas, giving you insights into the best path to take.


Creative decision making is part and parcel of effective management. To do it well, we need to set up our teams for success. First give your teammates the bigger picture of what they’re aiming for, and then support them in discovering what strengths they can bring to the table. Facilitate productive brainstorming by giving your staff time to think both alone and together. Remember: there are no bad ideas! Before following through with a decision, walk it through the four different lenses to make sure you’re seeing it from all angles. With the right structure, your team will be positioned to discover incredible solutions to catapult you to success!


KEEP UP WITH DR. SAM

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sam_adeyemi

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesamadeyemi/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesamadeyemi

Website: https://samadeyemi.com/


Get a 30 Day free trial to Dr. Sam’s Reset Program for Leaders when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.


This article was based on episode 262 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


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