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Employer perspectives

Why does problem solving matter to your employability? Watch senior workplace leaders share their perspectives.
GARY SMITH: I’ve yet to work in or hear about an organisation that simply doesn’t have problems, issues, that it has to confront. So therefore, it is part of everyday life. It is a success measure as to how well companies can deal with problems are the ones that separate the good companies from the bad.
JUSTIN FRANKLIN: So problem-solving’s really important to our business and our industry, because we’re here for the customer fundamentally. And to make sure we deliver the maximum value to the customer, we’ve got to be solving the right problems, and we need really good problem-solvers to come in, identify where we can improve as a business and as an industry, and make sure we’re maximising that value back to customers and the community.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: Problem-solving solving is what we do as a firm. Effectively, our clients outsource their problems to us. And that can be because of capability or capacity or time pressures, or because what they’re doing is new to them and they trust firms like ours to come in and help them with their problem of the day, whatever that happens to be.
GARY SMITH: In all of my experience, the answers inevitably lie within the body of the organisation. It’s the ability to bring the talent and the issues or the people who have been able to do the analysis, to bring those ideas to senior management, where senior management then can apply other filters and factors into the decision-making. But it is absolutely wrong to believe that all of the answers lies in the heads of senior management.
JUSTIN FRANKLIN: So it’s really important in a business like ours that everyone in the business is playing a role in solving problems. It’s not just for the senior executive to be dictating the solutions. The best businesses have all their teams playing a part in continually improving the business and finding new ways to innovate and deliver value to those customers.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: Undertaking the right level of research and our stakeholder consultation is really important in providing the best professional judgement that you can on the day. Looking at historical datasets is really important when it comes to making decisions and problem-solving,– But really there is no substitute for broad stakeholder consultation and making sure that the decision that you make today, is one that is not made in haste, but it is made with all of the very best information that’s available to you today. At the same time, it’s really important to be able to let go of that point of view tomorrow if the evidence available to you tomorrow changes.
GARY SMITH: It’s not about compromise in that it’s a less than ideal solution. Compromising is, well, I didn’t actually think of that, but what a great idea. Let’s explore that, is part of the chemistry of a organisation’s executive or management group that is prepared to listen. It’s prepared to explore a thought process that they hadn’t even contemplated.
JUSTIN FRANKLIN: No one individual knows the answers to all the questions. So we rely on the team and the team to help each other. And what we really ask people to do is come to those conversations with an open mind. Because we all have an opinion, but it’s more challenging sometimes to be open-minded about the opinions of others.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: Make sure that you ask the right questions. Start with an open mind. And again, test your assumptions as you go through the process of collecting information. Start with a hypothesis that you’re testing, rather than an idea that you’re deeply wedded to, and continue to test it and challenge it until you have drawn sufficient evidence that you are comfortable to draw a conclusion.
JUSTIN FRANKLIN: The most important thing in gaining the best experience is to take risks, to take smart risks. And have a go and try new things. Put them into practise and be prepared that some of them aren’t going to work out, some’ll fail, but you’ll learn from that and that’s great experience to take forward.
GARY SMITH: At the end of the day, once you are presented with all of the information, facts, figures and alternative thoughts, structures and processes, at the end of the day, the team that is responsible for that decision needs to balance all of that information and basically do what they believe to be the right outcome or the right decision for the organisation.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: And so problem-solving and complex problem-solving essentially entails moving outside your comfort zone. And probably doing something that you haven’t done before.
There are many reasons why organisations seek good problem solvers. In this video, senior workplace leaders share their perspectives about what good problem solving looks like, why it matters and what you can do to be a better problem solver.
Problem solving is a critical component of most jobs. It’s necessary for responding to change, enhancing innovation and promoting continuous improvement, and is often used in conjunction with other capabilities such as critical thinking, communication and teamwork.
In the workplace, good problem solvers respond to issues proactively and collaboratively, using the best available information to achieve organisational objectives and goals, which ultimately makes things better for the people they work both with and for.

Your task

Watch the video to find out more from senior workplace leaders about problem solving in organisational settings.
Is there anything that stands out or that you found particularly interesting, useful or surprising?
When you’re done, summarise your key takeaways from this video and share them in the comments. Also take a moment to read through other posts and use reply to add your thoughts.
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