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Key skills: problem-solving and adding value

Solve problems effectively and add value to the organisation by analysing and interpreting financial information so it tells a meaningful story.
This week, we have focused on how established organisations keep on track. To ensure things keep moving in the right direction, two key skills to have are the ability to solve problems and understanding how to add value to the organisation.
Let’s first consider problem solving. Ultimately, what you are doing when problem solving is expressing a recommendation that improves the present situation. The first thing to do is to identify the problem itself. Ask questions and try to narrow down the issue to be as specific as possible. Once you’ve drilled down into the issue it is far easier to find a solution. When problem solving, it is important that you express your ideas. You will have ideas that no one else may have had, and if it is helpful it is important that you are heard. Speak up and join the conversation. Use your experience to help someone else. You may have skills and experience that are different to your colleagues.
Pooling this information when discussing problem-solving, will lead to a more robust and thought out solution. In business, as in other aspects of life, when solving a problem, you will often find more than one solution. Identifying all the options is a skill in itself. Here are some of our experts explaining their approach. You often find that sometimes it’s best to take a step back and think, what are we trying to achieve. Sometimes that might mean having to refer to the client you’re working with’s specific business goals or, if it’s a specific piece of work, what you’re actually trying to achieve.
When you then review the outcomes, it might be a case of working out, number one, what the probability of the outcome, what the subsequent ramifications, or knock-on effects of the outcome might be. As an advisor, it is not our responsibility to make a decision for the client. But what we do is we try and take an independent view of reviewing the data, looking at the outcomes, and seeing how well it aligns to the goals of our clients and advising on that basis. And then, hopefully, with our analysis, they could make the best decision. Adding value is our other skill for you to work on. Here, some of our experts explain their view of what that means.
Well adding value is definitely a lot wider than trying to add financial value. It’s about trying to make a difference and you can make a difference in a whole range of ways. One of those is just, that if you’re asked to do something, just going away and doing it and getting on with it. And not needing to be supervised in great detail. You can actually go away, do something, come back and the task has been completed. Another will be around trying to work out – Are there new ways of trying to approach problems? Can you bring a different mindset to an issue in order to try and suggest a different way of moving an organisation forward?
From those comments, we can see adding value is a broad term that can include aspects such as cost saving or increasing efficiency so that you produce more goods or services for the same costs. Adding value can also mean improving the quality of the product or improving customer service levels, making the buying experience as convenient as possible and increasing sales. Problem solving and adding value are important skills because from a business point of view they both help to achieve the objectives and expectations for the organisation. So how can you demonstrate your problem solving and value adding skills?
When it comes to demonstrating problem solving it’s likely that you do this on a day to day basis, perhaps without realising that you’re doing it. Let’s hear some examples from the students to give you some inspiration for reflecting on your own experiences. In terms of problem solving at university, most of my modules require help problem solving. And one of the big problems is juggling your time in between different modules and deciding which deadline’s most important to work towards first.
My placement really helped me learn how to do that by juggling lots of different projects at one time and now I’m much more capable of solving all these problems at once and making sure that I dedicate the right amount time to each different job that I have to do. To me adding value is when you can bring one of your skills, and your areas of interest, or just something you have other people don’t have, to improve your skills within a group or your approach to a project. So not necessarily within a business world, but here at university, I was part of a Netball team, which is really interesting, at uni to be involved in sports.
I was acting as a fitness coach, because that was one of my main areas of interest. But within the business school, in the real world, my knowledge of international business might be a lot more developed than other areas, than other people have. They might be more interested in finance, or something like that, so that international element could be really useful for me in the future. Adding value is also shown through you being able to demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning through taking training courses and extending your experience through volunteer work. Now complete your skills portfolio, reflecting on your own problem solving and value adding skills.
As you have seen and heard so far this week, the finance team has a lot to do in an established organisation.
Two common features of keeping a business on track are that you need to be able to solve problems effectively, and add value to the organisation – by analysing and interpreting financial information so it tells a meaningful story.

Skills review

After watching the video take some time to update the skills portfolio we introduced you to in Week 1. What examples can you give of your experience with solving problems and adding value? If you find any gaps, think of opportunities you could take to get extra experience.
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