We hear time and time again that having problem-solving as a skill is essential. Lists of ‘Top Skills any Employee Should Have’ are forever telling us we need to be solution-oriented and have a problem-solving mindset.

What exactly is this mindset and why is it so important?

In a nutshell, it’s the ability to turn problems into questions, solutions and actions. When you encounter a problem, be it tiny or catastrophic, you need to be able to quickly solve the problem and, here’s the essential bit: put measures in place to ensure it won’t happen again. That’s problem-solving with staying power.

I give you two examples to demonstrate how important this is at all levels of work life.

Scenario 1:

I need a paperclip. Where are the paperclips? Where do we keep them?

You then proceed to spend 30 minutes looking for paperclips; not the best use of your time, I think we’ll agree. But you’ve found them eventually, under a client folder, some post-it notes and a book on creative leadership, well done.

You’ve solved your immediate problem. But how do you make sure that this doesn’t happen again?

You can clearly label the paperclip draw/pot/shelf/section and ensure everyone knows where they are. The result? Next time you need a paperclip, guess where they are? In their clear labelled draw/pot/shelf/section that everyone knows about. Easy.

Scenario 2:

A client needs a proposal to send on to an associate and has 48 hours to turn it around. Your boss is on leave and your other strategist is off sick. You have no idea how to put this together. How do you solve this?

Whilst every business will have different ways of approaching a situation like this, it’s certainly a rare set of circumstances. Once you’ve solved the immediate problem, of either getting a proposal to the client with help from a colleague in another team, or saying you can’t do it on such a tight timeframe, you need to assess how you might prevent this happening in future. Whether this is a communication protocol, a set of templates or an emergency work contact, ensure you have measures in place to stop this situation recurring in future.


These two very different examples are designing to demonstrate that solution-driven thinking is universally applicable. This is how businesses become resilient and overcome hurdles. It also shows you that problem-solving underpins almost everything you do at work on a daily basis.

At Make Happy, problem-solving is at the foundations of what we do and teach. By constantly evolving your internal processes and protocol, you should rarely, if ever, find yourself in a situation that you can’t solve successfully.

So you should probably start learning about problem-solving.

www.basadur.com is a good place to start.