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Readiness Recipes

The Problem-Solving Manager

August 10, 2012 by Dr. Jon Warner in Readiness Recipes

The Problem-Solving Manager

Every manager makes hundreds of small and large-scale decisions every day. However, if they are to do this well, it is better to adopt a systematic approach to problem solving and this means deploying several key skills as often as possible. Although these skills are all listed below, effective problem solving is almost always a mix of focus on both the detail (the rigor and tedium of data gathering, evidence sifting and careful analysis) and lateral thinking (the often more fun activity of brainstorming, finding creative links and hypothesizing). A manager therefore needs to ensure that both sides of this problem solving approach are well covered. In other words, if there is insufficient information, or too many untested assumptions then the team should be encouraged to invest more time here. On the other hand, if there is too much emphasis on facts and figures and “analysis paralysis” results, then the manager’s job is to encourage more creativity to get started again.

Ingredients:Readiness Recipes

  • Analytical skills
  • Big picture thinking ability
  • Creativity/Lateral thinking ability
  • Critical thinking ability
  • Perception/Judgment skills
  • Risk-taking ability

Ingredients should be added, blended well and left to mature over time:

  • Analytical skills: This refers to a manager’s ability to evaluate large or complex situations in a logical and systematic way and to identify the most critical issues and factors that need to be dealt with.
  • Big picture thinking ability: This refers to a manager’s ability to assess the business or commercial impact of issues or challenges that might arise and react in an appropriate way.
  • Creativity/Lateral thinking ability: This refers to a manager’s capacity to think in lateral ways and draw together varied information to arrive at new solutions or courses of action.
  • Critical thinking ability: This refers to a manager’s capacity to think rigorously and broadly about issues, challenges or problems and to optimize the route to finding potential solutions that work.
  • Perception/Judgment skills: This refers to a manager’s capacity to synthesize what is seen, heard or sensed in order to form a clear view of what may be viable and practical as a possible course of action.
  • Risk-taking ability: This refers to a manager’s capacity to take reasonable and considered risks and act to take advantage of opportunities rather than to let them pass.
The Problem-Solving Manager has all of these ingredients; no substitutions or omissions can be made to the recipe.

“Readiness Recipes” is a new article series exploring 26 different kinds of managers A-Z and the key ingredients that each needs for success.  Stay tuned for more recipes and thanks for reading!

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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