Seamlessly deconstructing complex problems and concepts
Seamlessly deconstructing complex problems and concepts
Individuals with Solving strengths have natural problem solving skills. They are able to identify issues in their environment, analyze them and offer insight with depth and logic. They are structured and independent thinkers, with the ability to transform ambiguous, complex problems into simple and logical frameworks. They understand that their ideas and opinions about the world are usually more intellectually advanced, but they struggle with ushering those ideas into the hands of people who can execute them. Their task-oriented mindset keeps them focused on big ideas and convoluted problems, but this frame of mind also keeps Solvers retreated in their work which limits their opportunity to develop deep, emotional relationships with people.
Each individual skill set has its own unique strong suits. Some people may have a finely honed skill through past training and experience; others’ may be more nascent. This list of capabilities is our understanding of the Solving skill based upon extensive research and interviews.
- Framing Problems – Solving individuals set up the right problem to solve because they focus on the “what” when presented with a topic or issue. They immediately seek the context of problems and challenge the question being asked. Their first step is to formulate the problem, then question things in minute detail, down to defining the language used in the problem statement. They clarify uncertainties, doubts, or ambiguities to establish the best possible starting point for their analysis. They don’t just ask questions to feel important, they ask important questions. This process is preventive of misunderstandings in the long term because it helps avoid wrong concepts and generalizations being formed in the beginning. Solvers have the innate talent of finding the right question before seeking the answer. The framing of the problem is always relevant to the answers at which they arrive. Solvers also use this mindset to frame arguments or understand complex concepts.
- Disaggregating Problems – Solvers have a very structured approach to the way they analyze a problem. They break the problem down into its fundamental pieces, then continue to dissect the issue until its core truths—or first principles—are distilled. Let’s take the simple example of increasing profitability. Some skill sets might start ‘bottom-up’, and generate ideas right off the bat for increasing profitability. Whereas a Solving individual addresses this problem ‘top-down’, separating the essential components of the issue: the company can increase revenue or it can decrease costs. Solvers look at the fundamental facts of a situation rather than defaulting to way the rest of the world thinks. They make no assumptions. They use mental models and logic trees to boil things down until they are absolutely sure of something. This analytical approach helps clarify complex issues and highlight what really matters.
- Robust Research – As one might already observe, Solvers are proponents of the scientific process. After they’ve performed adequate analysis on the issue, they form a hypothesis, then rigorously test the hypothesis—often through exhaustive quantitative research. They spend hours—even days—independently researching an issue, much like a professor or Ph.D. student, often to the point of the work consuming them. They go after the facts and data, typically through reading papers, books, and online reports; yet some Solving individuals are eager enough to get first-hand observations from people via focus groups, polling, and panels. Being the first to critique others’ research, they know exactly what is needed to test, prove, or disprove their hypothesis with conclusiveness (e.g. double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized).
- Drawing Insights – The real capability of a Solving skill set is being able to conduct deep-level analysis, while also coming back to meta level and connecting the details back to the larger problem. In other words, they are easily able to remove themselves from the weeds and answer the “so what” to all the work they’ve done. This ability to synthesize their findings then allows them to draw conclusions and create alternative options for the appropriate path forward.
“ I honestly never thought I was good at Solving. I always thought I was just an introvert. ”
Every skill becomes a susceptibility if it’s either overused or done in the wrong context. The stronger your skill set, the more susceptible you become to your Achilles’ heel. This list of susceptibilities is our understanding of the Solving hazards based upon extensive research and interviews.
- Lack of Common Sense – Solvers are overconfident in their reasoning and analytical skills, tending to disregard other, non-rational influences that are significant to a situation. They consistently overlook, or are completely unaware of, the human element of real-world problems. This limits the Solver’s ability to formulate a real-world solutions to problems that are more people-centered. Solvers’ reliance on a logical and formulaic system of problem solving leads them to believe their analyses are always right, leaving no room for the influence of subjectivity. They are susceptible to making, and believing, false generalizations that can surface through data analysis, and are unwilling to consider that their data-driven solutions might be faulty.
- Overly Analytical – Solvers don’t understand when it’s appropriate to stop analyzing. They have a tendency to over-analyze things, to the point where they are complicating the simple as easily as they are able to simplify the complex. In social settings, Solvers tend to be aloof and overly analytical because their analytical brains make them less interested in, and adept at, social interaction. They can be dismissive of the opinions and contributions of those they consider less intelligent. Solving individuals’ disregard for social conventions makes them seem insensitive to others, and they are sometimes described as condescending. They are constantly analyzing others to determine intelligence, and if they perceive someone’s intellectual capability as inferior to their own, Solvers’ assumed superiority becomes obvious in their interactions. Because of this, they have a difficult time forming significant intimate connections with others from friendship to intimate relationships.
- Resolutely Independent – Solvers often have difficulty working in a team environment, because their high-level of intellect makes ‘easier’ for them to do it all on their own. They loathe being restrained by what they perceive to be oppressive rules—they want to be seen as highly independent masters of their own fates, even possessors of an altruistic wisdom that supersedes established rules and practices. The challenge is that they live in a world of checks and balances, a pill they are not happy to swallow. Solvers are staunch believers in their ability to accomplish tasks better on their own. They are repelled by micromanagement and feel limited by excessive instructions. This presents a challenge to potential employers as well as in personal relationships.
- Ineffective at Driving Change – While adept at analysis and manipulating data, Solvers struggle with embracing the human element in order to effect change with people. They can draw insights and know what needs to be done, but when it comes to implementing the change, they struggle. Their lack of social capital means that although they might understand what needs to change, they don’t often have the support to make it happen. All change must be achieved through people, and Solving individuals don’t have the political prowess to nurture those insights into actual realities.
“ It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. ”
4. Roles & Activities
When it comes to finding a role that leverages the Solving skill set, certain activities quite clearly stand-out from the rest. These areas call upon the capabilities of the Solving, while minimizing the situations that they are more susceptible in.
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