Keys to Success: Exceptional Problem Solving and Decision Making in the Workplace


From mundane decisions such as what to eat for lunch to large scale choices like launching a new product line, our lives are brimmed with problem-solving and decision-making moments. More often than not, these decisions are made within the professional context, answering to the title, Problem Solving and Decision Making in the Workplace. To flourish in any workplace, refining these skills becomes vital, although not easy. This article aims to untangle the complexities and provide strategies to excel in problem-solving and decision-making within the professional realm.

Demystifying Problem Solving and Decision Making

Before diving into complex strategies, it is essential to dissect and grasp their meanings. Problem-solving refers to finding solutions for barriers hindering the goal. On the contrary, decision-making is picking the best choice from an array of solutions or options.

The Interplay of Problem Solving and Decision Making

While synonymous in conversations, in reality, problem-solving and decision-making are two separate entities that often intertwine. Problem-solving forms the foundation of decision-making, where a problem is first identified, analyzed, and several alternatives are established. Hereafter, decision-making takes the baton, evaluating options and finally choosing the most feasible one.

Strategies of Exceptional Problem Solving in the Workplace

Problem-solving demands both creative and analytical thinking, creating a duality that accelerates the process and enhances the quality of solutions. Below are five strategies that improve problem-solving skills in workplaces.

  1. Collaborative Approach: Collaborating with a range of staff members or departments brings diverse perspectives to the table, thus offering a plethora of solutions.

  2. Analytical Tools: Utilization of SWOT analysis, Pareto charts, Fishbone diagrams, etc., allow a systematic approach and help identify the root cause.

  3. Generate Multiple Solutions: With every problem, generate multiple solutions. It offers flexibility and avoids tunnel vision.

  4. Evaluating the Impact: Before settling, ensure the solution doesn’t inadvertently create another issue.

  5. Implement and Review: Post implementation, review the impact and make necessary changes as per feedback.

Strategies of Exceptional Decision Making in the Workplace

Much like problem-solving, decision-making also bears unique strategies to ensure effectiveness and value addition.

  1. Collect Adequate Information: Gather substantive data to make informed choices.

  2. Balancing Emotions and Logic: Decisions shouldn’t be purely emotion-driven or logic-driven, but a blend of both.

  3. Assess the Risks: Weigh the pros and cons to avoid potential risks in the future.

  4. Prompt Decisions: Delayed decisions can cost resources. While adequate time to ponder is necessary, avoid unnecessary delays.

  5. Transparency: Transparency in decisions can enhance team morale and trust.

Key Model: The Cuban Missile Crisis – An Exceptional Problem Solving and Decision Making Example

The Cuban Missile Crisis can exemplify ideal problem-solving and decision-making strategies. When the U.S discovered Soviet’s nuclear missiles in Cuba, leading to an imminent nuclear war, John F. Kennedy employed both problem-solving and decision-making strategies with precision and managed to convince the Soviet to dismantle the missiles, thus avoiding potential catastrophe.

Inculcating Problem Solving and Decision Making in Organizational Culture

To sustain productivity and organizational health, problem-solving and decision-making must permeate into the organization’s culture. Encourage open conversations, regularly organize workshops focusing on these skills, and reward the people who demonstrate these traits.


Understandably, the centrality of problem solving and decision making in the workplace can never be overstated. It holds the enormous potential of shaping efficiency and productivity, turning roadblocks into stepping stones. Embracing these skills not only makes an individual competent but also yields monumental growth for organizations as they navigate through the ever-changing business landscape.

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