One of the areas of multi-decade research carried out by the Johnson O’Connor Institute into performance at work has centred on our innate problem-solving styles – and the difference between how we, as individuals, approach problems and problem-solving at work.
This seems important because how we approach the world, and how we solve problems, can have an impact on our effectiveness at work, as well as within teams (task and relational conflict, as we saw here) and in areas such as strategy and innovation.
Bottom line, the Institute has found that we have four distinct problem-solving styles that are hardwired in us and essential for us to be aware of if we are to contribute to a high-performing team.
The four problem-solving styles
On our Talent Factor programme, we use the following visual to depict these four styles, and how they drive our problem-solving at work:
Here’s a brief explanation of the styles and what they mean for you at work:
Experiential style (Image: circles)
Those with an experiential problem-solving style:
· Are typically tangential thinkers – they make connections between greatly different things and can build structure around their discussions
· Are holistic and need to see the big picture first
· Are characterised by either a very quick ‘seat of the pants’ decision-making style or a slower, more deliberate ‘let me refer to experience’ style – fluid in problem-solving speed.
· Can sometimes (unintentionally) confuse and frustrate other styles by jumping around, ‘shooting from the hip’, or needing ‘too much’ time to reflect
Logical/analytical style (Image: ceilings)
Those with a logical problem-solving style:
· Sometimes feel a compelling need to go through all the logical steps, and this may inhibit action and decision-making
· May have untidy workspaces – they can internalise organisation
· Are able to organise ideas quickly and express them to others – usually an ability maximised in teaching and mentoring
· Are sometimes prone to needing more details –even when they have enough! They tend to feel a need for process.
Diagnostic style (Image: walls)
Those with a diagnostic problem-solving style:
· Have an innate talent to solve problems, but may not be good at explaining their thought process or solutions to others.
· Will sometimes create problems that need to be solved
· Usually good at thinking on their feet
· Typically the quickest problem-solving style (though seat-of-the-pants experientials can be quicker)
· Can be seen as being argumentative at times
Consultative style (Image: boxes)
Those with a consultative problem-solving style:
· Can use both diagnostic and logical thinking to solve problems.
· Will usually solve problems rapidly and then walk you through how they did so.
· Can think on their feet and see problems rapidly from multiple directions.
· Like and even need a fast-paced environment with new problems on a regular basis.
What’s your problem-solving style?
If you would like to find out your problem-solving style as well as your talents in order to help you develop high-performing teams as well as a satisfying career path, have a look at our Talent Factor programme which gives you the tools, practices and skills to do just that.