Our society is built on problems. It is why people have jobs. We are paid to solve problems. If someone needs to get from A to B and the distance is too far to walk, that’s a problem. Taxis and Tro Tros solve that problem.
In the same vein, companies are trying to solve large societal problems. However, there are also smaller nuisances that pop-up in the day-to-day. They need employees who won’t shut down when they are faced with a problem. So companies want to hire people who find ways around problems that arise.
You should be one of those people too. Mr Daniel Oppong is a Process Operations Engineer at the Tema Oil Refinery. With his accrued years of experience, he takes us through the basics of problem-solving.
First Of All, You Need To Think
We think all the time. However, to be a good problem-solver, there is an intentional way that you need to approach thinking. That deliberate thinking process will allow you to avoid misunderstandings, miscommunications and mismanagement due to poor choices.
According to Daniel, what intentional thinking allows you to do is make evaluations instead of jumping to an assumption about a problem. The difference is that an evaluation will be the product of a system of thinking, while your assumptions will be influenced by prejudice and emotion; making them less accurate.
Next, You Need To Identify The Problem
The reason that problems make us uncomfortable is because a problem is a flaw in a system; they are challenges to our way of doing things. And according to Daniel, breaking down a problem allows you to pin-point the exact cause of it. And that creates room for what Daniel Oppong calls System Thinking.
With System Thinking, the objective is to create a system for handling problems. That means that, problems of the same nature can be grouped. And there will be a single method of remedying problems of the same nature. Additionally, any systems that you create will allow other people to solve the same problems independently.
List Out All The Possible Solutions
Once you have identified a problem, the next step is to list out all the possible solutions. Daniel stresses how important it is to not just give up when you’re confronted with a problem. He calls that a flaw in critical thinking.
After listing all possible solutions you evaluate and analyze in order to make sure that you know the benefits and the drawbacks of each of those solutions. Then, you can find the one that is most appropriate for the context.
Develop A Standard Operating Procedure
The standard operating procedure will be a step-by-step guide on how to solve a particular problem. Developing a standard operating procedure allows for the transferability of problem-solving skills. It is creating systems that will allow even future employees to solve problems that have been identified before.
Monitoring And Evaluation
Even If You Are Selling Shoes; You’re Selling Pure Water … Whatever it Is You’re Doing, You Must Be Able To Collect DAta.
Collecting data is important because it guides you, at the end of the day, to know exactly how productive you’re being. This will allow you to identify the things that work and the things that don’t produce the kind of results that you are looking for.
Tools That Will Help You In Problem-Solving
Finally, there are also tools that will help you become a better problem-solver. They are:
- Software and Apps
There are so many apps available these days for most of the things that you can think of. Evernote, ToDoist and Tick Tick are just a few that make office tasks easier to accomplish. Whatever your need, if you look, you will find an app that can help in some way.
- Equipment and Hardware
Depending on the industry that you find yourself in, there is also dedicated equipment that you can make use of to make work go along smoother for you.
- People, that is, Specialized Experts
Another thing that you should take advantage of in problem-solving is expertise. If you have access to a person that is more experienced than you, or is a specialist in a particular field, you can take advantage of that.
- Models and Algorithms
Using models and algorithms means that you’re organizing the data that you’ve collected in a way that you can make inferences from. They help you better evaluate your options when you’re faced with a problem.
Let’s Get You Hired is a weekly manual for job seekers. The series contains guides and tips on CVs, Interviews and other resources to get you hired.
Source: Africa Skills Hub – Mr Daniel Oppong, Process Operations Engineer at Tema Oil Refinery.