One of the key roles in leadership is solving problems as they arise. And even though most of us will never be in the position of facing the problem of solving a hostage stand-off, the tools utilized by professional negotiators in such situations are certainly transferrable – at least in principle – to the general topic of problem solving.
This morning I had the opportunity to participate in training provided, in part, by a Washington State Patrol SWAT Hostage/Crisis Negotiator. And knowing that today is my day for sending out these emails, thought that his formula for problem solving was straight-forward - and that it could be valuable for anyone in a leadership position.
In fact, one of the realities of the serious nature of the negotiator role is that every tool they utilize must be both entirely practical and utterly simple - both to understand and to implement. With lives on the line, complexity is unwarranted.
With this as a backdrop, here are the five steps to problem solving presented this morning by WSP Trooper Sean Meenan:
- Identify the problem
- Identify the available resources
- Provide [clarify] the time-frame
- Identify the internal and external barriers
- Look for and implement possible alternatives/solutions
I am not going to complicate this simple five-step process by over-explaining each step. As presented, it is clear and easy to understand, as well as functionally transferrable to many leadership situations.
Obviously most problems encountered by those in leadership do not rise to the level of a life-or-death matter. Yet, if these five steps work effectively at that heightened level, they will likely by useful in our day-to-day (less tense) situations.
And while I am at it, thank you Trooper Sean for providing this insight. As for me and my household, you and your colleagues have our full support - and gratitude.