A Better Approach to Problem Solving

How do you encourage your team to bring solutions to the table rather than simply bringing problems?

I was recently introduced to the 1-3-1 approach and it is a winner.

Instead of having your team present problems, ask them to change their approach.

If they are experiencing a challenge or problem, ask them to present the challenge, 3 potential solutions they have considered, and the one they would like to try (their recommended approach).

From here, you can have a discussion about whether this solution is preferred, or even bring additional options to the discussion.

This approach creates a few positive adjustments to the common “escalate the problem” tact.

First, many problems will never require escalation because your team will brainstorm solutions on their own, come up with adequate solutions, and execute upon them. (This also reinforces autonomy, one of the key motivators for top-performing teammates.)

Second, it reframes the discussion from one that is reactive to one that is more proactive. It fosters positivity in the workplace that can be lacking when everything is presented as a problem without solutions.

Third, it allows people to grow in their abilities to perform their job functions. There’s a reason we grow up working puzzles. Finding solutions independently is a great way to expand our capabilities and confidence.

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