Problem Solving in the Business World
I once had a manager in the Navy tell me “If the world wasn’t full of problems no one would have a job”.
Is that true? I once analyzed a supermarket for a few days to understand what each role did and quickly realized every job was designed to solve some kind of problem from inventory to customer service.
In fact, a major reason why some people get promoted quicker than others is their ability to solve complex problems on the fly.
Think about it, a great salesperson is uncovering needs and wants to provide a solution they can sell you. A stock trader is analyzing market conditions and trying to predict how stockholders will react. The better of a problem solver they are, the more money they will make.
So, how good are you at solving problems?
Let’s try to solve a common Google interviewing question.
How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
Most of us would say something like “Where do I start with this one” or “not sure but it’s got to be a lot”.
Let’s break down this question based on what we know.
- What is the size of the Bus?
How many cubic feet are in the bus? If you multiply the width, length, and height of the bus, you’ll get the total cubic feet. 8 x 6 x 20 = 960 cubic feet How many cubic inches are in the bus (you need to know how many cubic inches are in a cubic foot)? Then multiply the total cubic feet of the bus by the total cubic inches in a cubic foot? 1728 cubic inches in a cubic foot, that means about 1.6 million cubic inches (1728 x 960)
- What is the size of a golf ball (How many cubic inches are in a golf ball)? 2.5 cubic inches
Answer = Divide the size of a golf ball (in cubic inches) by the size of the bus (total number of cubic inches).
660,000 golf balls (2.5 cubic inches (are in a golf ball) / 1.6 million cubic inches in a bus).
Although that problem seemed complicated all you needed was two pieces of information (the size of the golf ball and the size of the bus).
So how does this help in your career anyway?
When faced with a difficult problem in your career, your business communication skills are an essential tool for success.
To make better decisions these 2 business communication tools will ensure you come to a much better conclusion with making a key decision.
- Know how to ask questions to draw information out of people.
- Listen more than talk to help build an accurate conclusion.
In chapter 5 – Unlocking the door to good communication from the book First Impressions for the Business Professional we explore how to ask questions that will prompt people to give you a meaningful answer through open-ended questions. These types of questions prompt people to give you information that will help you solve the problem faster. The more information they can provide the easier it can be to solve the underlining problem.
The second tool is listening skills. If you want to master effective business communication skills, you’ll need to master listening. Most people are poor listeners. When someone is talking, most people have the bad habit of focusing on what they are going to say next, pretty much tuning out what is being said in the moment. It’s impossible to have 2 conversations at the same time. Remember, if you’re going to solve a problem, you’ll need to give them your full attention when they answer your open-ended question.
Bonus: At the core, the key to becoming a better communicator is understanding yourself better. We invite you to take 30 seconds -and try our free DISC assessment today.
Remember: The Key to Problem Solving in Business is Asking Good Question and Listening to come up with a smart conclusion.