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Over the last few weeks in my newsletters I’ve been exploring the topic of creative problem-solving and how to develop this capacity in yourself and your teams. As teams move towards becoming more solution–centred, their focus shifts as does their value to the organisation, as illustrated in the model below.

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.
RESISTANT PROBLEM-SOLVERS are in denial. They either don’t realise how much trouble they are in or don’t care. They tend to be a combination of disengaged and defiant and may even intentionally undermine attempts to generate and/or introduce new ideas and different ways of thinking. Not only do they not want to improve their problem-solving skills, they don’t want others to do it either because it will show them up. So, they undermine any initiatives or training and development aimed at this. Behaviour may take the form of passive aggression or deliberate derailing of meetings where new thinking techniques are being introduced. Their activity reduces rather than enhances the productivity of the organisation. If you said to this person or this team, “We need creative solutions to our workplace challenges, they’d say, “Not going to happen”.
STAGNANT PROBLEM-SOLVERS are entrenched in default thinking. They rely on existing procedures and practices to address workplace problems. They are preoccupied with maintaining the status quo and are uncomfortable with the uncertainty that comes with change and new thinking. They are content to stay in their comfort zone. If you said to this person or this team, “We need more creative solutions to our workplace challenges” they’d say, “Too hard” or “I don’t have time” or “If it ain’t broke why are you trying to fix it?”
INTERESTED PROBLEM-SOLVERS are aware that the team/organisation needs fresh thinking so they are questioning their existing practices and are prepared to consider alternative ideas. They are open to doing things differently but are not sure how to proceed. If you said to this person or this team, “We need creative solutions to our workplace challenges, they’d say, “I’m listening. Go on.”
ENGAGED PROBLEM-SOLVERS are willing to experiment with fresh ideas and want to find new and better ways of addressing workplace challenges. They are able to use tools to improve thinking, problem-solving & decision making. If you said to this person or this team, “We need creative solutions to our workplace challenges, they’d say “Sure let’s give it a go”.
SOLUTION CENTRED PROBLEM-SOLVERS proactively, confidently and regularly use problem-solving models and tools to scaffold mental agility, adaptive thinking and collaboration to deliver better outcomes. They are comfortable with ambiguity and complexity and are committed to producing outcomes that add value rather than reproducing what already exits. The solution-centered individual comes to you with SOLUTIONS rather than problems. The solution centered team knows how to boost performance through creativity to deliver innovation. If you said to this person or this team, “We need creative solutions to our workplace challenges, they’d say “Bring it on! We’ve got some ideas”.

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