• Donald Davis

Problem Solving – Creative or Reactive

I was recently asked about my problem-solving approach and if I was a creative or reactive problem solver. In this post, you are going to get something that I do not talk about, when I have failed and what I have done about it.

I believe that problem-solving at its best can be used in a structured method to capture creative ideas. Additionally, problem-solving can be used in a proactive versus reactive way to think about the issues that may arise. In cases where a leader is reacting to a problem, these same structured methods can be used to deliver a solution that will be long lasting.

I would say that I am less reactive and more creative in problem-solving. I learned problem-solving in my career at GE and I do believe that there is a process to problem-solving you can use tools like fishbone diagrams, 5 whys or Six Sigma DMAIC – (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) to think about creatively and then proactively plan in advance of issues happening.

No one has a crystal ball though and I have certainly failed to proactively plan for every possible issue that might arise in everything that I have worked on. In those cases, I consider things that caused me to react as failures. These failures I believe take a very immediate structured but creative approach to develop a solution that will last. Leaders need to consider all options in solving problems and when you are reacting. Drilling into the root cause and finding a solution that will last is much more important than being quick.

Most organizations are constantly changing and I have been told that solutions that I helped teams to facilitate for problems have been around decades after I left that organization. It is, for this reason, I believe that having a sound approach and a creative mind are important in problem-solving.

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