#10 – Practices Problem Solving

Problem solving is one of the most important skills in your career development.

Here’s a short quiz to see if your developing the systematic, analytic, and people skills needed to effectively deal with office problems.

1. Do you recognize a problem or just work around it?
2. Do you look for the causes of a problem or just blame people.
3. Do you compare this problem to similar problems you’ve solved before to look for successful ideas?
4. Do you keep the problem in perspective or get bogged down in details?
5. Do you get lots of ideas from several other people?
6. Do you give lots of credit to others when a problem is solved?
7. When a solution doesn’t work, do you acknowledge it quickly to the group and ask for more ideas?
8. Do you act on you ideas, or just let the problem go on and on.
9. Are you willing to admit when a problem can’t be solved and go to another, easier problem?

Now you know how the office works. You should be comfortable in your tasks. Try to do more than just figure out how to solve a problem. Why do you need to solve the problem? Which relationships will be improved? Since you’ve already tried to solve problems in the office, I’m sure you realize that every time you try to solve one problem, your “solution” may set up another problem that need to have a solution also.

It’s time to pick another problem/opportunity in the office. Have your doctor “check out” how you did.
1. What are we doing we don’t need to do?
2. Can we use technology to save staff time?

What I’m saying is that our practice changes so fast that there is no such thing as problem solving. However, I hope you’ll stay in a state of mind that recognizes that change is an ongoing process in the office and that you are either actively shaping these changes in your best interests or you may get trampled by events “outside of your control.”

Most people try to solve problems quickly from past experiences. When you realize that each problem is unique and the process is more important than the result, then you can slow up and enjoy the steps and people relationships involved in working to improve the situation. In our fast paced world you may find the goal changes before you get there anyway. Here are some ideas to help you.

1. Look for differences. What is unique about this problem.
2. Why do we want to solve this problem? You’ve probably focused on the narrow advantages. What are the broad implications to the practice on solving this problem?
3. How does this solution help our practice five years from now?
4. Soul search for your true reason for picking and solving a problem. Ask the same self awareness of other staff members involved in the process. Is there more to this “solution” than meets the eye?
5. Always look for ways to improve your solution. Just because everyone agrees on a solution doesn’t necessarily make it the best solution. Always look for opportunities to continuously improve on your ideas.

This task is designed to help you learn how to work with others to solve this problem. Your problem should:
1. be a reasonable problem (check with Dr.)
2. involve at least your team

Whether you solve the problem or not isn’t as important as how you approach the problem. Write down each of these steps, the date you accomplished the step, and what happened.

1. The problem as you see it. Break big problems into several small ones.
2. The group discussion – how the group defines the problem (often different from how you saw it)
3. Is the group willing to solve the problem?
4. Develop a solution that the group agrees to. It’s not your job to get the group to accept your solution. When you push your solution, you discount your team, and create resistance form the others. After all, your team should know as much as you about the problem – and see it from different perspectives. List the factors that contribute to the problem.
5. Decide on what you want to accomplish and when
6. Implement the solution
7. Follow-up at an agreed upon date – was it solved? Now answer these questions:
a. How did it go?
b. What worked well that you should do next time?
c. What should I have done differently?

Don’t worry if you don’t solve the problem. Answer these questions:
1. What went wrong?
2. Why did it go wrong?
3. When did you first notice your solution was failing?
4. What should we do differently next time?

Problem Solving Checklist
1. What is the problem? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Who is involved in this problem? ______________________________________________________
3. Group discussion – How does the group see this problem? Does the group want to solve it? – write the date discussed, the people involved & their opinion of what the problem is: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
4. Brainstorm of solutions: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
5. Which solution did you choose to implement? _________________________________________________________________________________
6. Date you will follow up _____________________________________________________________
7. Did this work? ____________ If yes, then it’s time to cheer to your team leader & Dr! If not, then ask your Team Leader or Dr. to help after you have the above filled out.