Recently, I wrote about the art of problem-solving involves the ability to intelligently reduce the complexity of the problem. How teachable is that?
Three Categories of Training Systems (Brilliance Systems)
When we build training systems, they fall into three categories:
- Teach how to execute a well-established process. That process is well-established and proven to yield the desired results.
- It is akin to giving someone a map with detailed step-by-step instructions.
- The training must cover all steps and present them such that the other person can understand them.
- This type of training also attempts to cover what to do when anticipated challenges occur.
- When unanticipated challenges occur, it is essential to amend the training system to incorporate the new insights.
- Teach someone how to think their way through a problem where they need to establish the right thing to do.
- That scenario is akin to dropping someone off in a wilderness area without established trails.
- The person has to think their way through that challenge: How do I get “back to civilization”?
- To build a system like that, you need to find out: How do I solve that problem (or it might be another expert on your team)? The thought process has to be clear and as complete as possible.
- Teach someone how to assess which well-established process is the right one to use for the situation at hand.
- Scenario #3 is a mix of scenarios #1 and #2.
- The metaphor is: You drop the person off in a National Park with several hiking trails. Yet, in the beginning, the person is not on any route. Fortunately, the person has a map, a compass, and other supplies. The person has to figure out where they are, find the best path, and then walk in the desired direction.
- For example, when a marketing company is onboarding a new client, the client might ask for Facebook marketing. A good marketing company will not automatically launch their “Facebook marketing process” but first assess which marketing strategies will most likely help the client company achieve its goals. Ideally, the marketing company has an onboarding process, but it is not quite “robotic.” It requires the art of listening between the lines, intuition, creativity … and that art can make this company stand out from its competition.
Scenario # 1 is used wherever possible because it (ideally) contains all known wisdom about the process at hand, including what can go wrong and how to fix it. But this scenario cannot cover all work areas and situations in a business or organization. Every organization deals with unexpected situations that require problem-solving.
Furthermore, for companies working in complex areas problem-solving is part of their daily bread-and-butter. Yet, even those companies often have a few select people (or even just one person) who are far better at problem-solving than the rest. How do they do it? What is going through the brain of an expert problem-solver as they tackle a problem in a particular expertise area?
Capturing that process and making it visible to others makes it possible to teach it to others. That is scenario #2.
- You can increase the number of people in your organization who are good at problem-solving.
- That way it doesn’t end up in the lap of one (or a select few) person/s.
- Chances are those few people are also the ones that are driving forward the innovative edge of the company.
- Bogging them down with huge loads of daily trouble-shooting is dangerous and puts the company at risk to be outcompeted by others.
Scenario #3 is a mix at #1 and #2. There is a system or process but you still need to assess which part of it is needed when. As in #2, you can capture the thought processes of a person who is good at it, and then teach others to do the same.
Training systems fall into three categories:
- Teach how to execute a well-established process
- The training system contains what to do when known challenges occur. If X happens, do Y.
- As long as nothing happens outside of the known, no problem-solving is required.
- Teach someone how to think their way through a problem – there is no preexisting process
- Scenario 2 is all about problem-solving.
- The training is about tackling situations where there are no preexisting paths. It is similar to wilderness survival training.
- Teach someone how to assess which well-established process is the right one to use for the situation at hand
- For example, deciding which process/es are the most beneficial for your clients is a science and art that make your company stand out from your competition.
- Teaching people in your organization in that “secret sauce” has transformational results.
Scenarios #2 and #3 involve teaching someone not just what to do but how to think their way through the problem.
In a nutshell: Teach problem-solving to your team by observing and documenting the thought processes of key people in your organization who are great at it! That takes a load off of the people who are constantly doing it now. Doing that helps your company remain at the cutting edge.
- Which of the three scenario/s do you have in play in your company or organization?
- How do you teach problem-solving?
P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!