Episode 73: Better Problem Solving

Problem-solving is a crucial skill for so many jobs, so why aren’t we taught how to do it properly? This conversation dives deep into research-backed process and techniques that help businesspeople and their teams navigate and solve problem better and faster.

Arnaud Chevallier is a co-author of Solvable: A Simple Solution to Complex Problems. He is also a Professor of Strategy and decision making at IMD where he prepares executives for the strategic challenges that organizations face in today’s dynamic global marketplace by helping them make better decisions in volatile and uncertain conditions. Arnaud has consulted with multiple organizations across industries, including the United Nations, SAP, STADA, and Shell.

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Episode Highlights


Complex and ill-defined problems


Famous, historical example of solving a symptom and not the cause


How to effectively frame a problem


Examples of effective problem framing


The problem with how companies are framing Return To Office


Too much vs too little stakeholder engagement


How much info is needed to frame a problem well


The value of taking a probabilistic approach


How to prevent info overload when framing problems


What differentiates how great teams approach problems


Engagement is about more than inviting people to the table


Balancing establishing credibility and showing vulnerability


Approach for mapping out solutions to problems


What MECE is and how to apply it in problem solving


How much mapping is needed for complex problems


Example of how diverse thinking leads to breakthrough solutions


Addressing our blind spots in problem solving


How to agree on evaluation criteria when choosing a solution

Arnaud’s view on the greatest unmet wellbeing need at work today

"Stress and and realizing how much stress is crippling us. And I'd say let's start with this. I think there's been a oh, there is an ongoing shift from being 'the tough people' to admitting we don't have all the answers and [admitting we have] vulnerabilities. And when we're in stressful situations, we should be able to speak up and look and ask, 'okay, how do we overcome this?'"

What “working with humans” means to Arnaud

“I trained as an engineer, [and as it relates to] problem solving, it's a science. It's also an art. So working with humans, what I love is the fascinating interactions between the science and the art.”


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Read: Solvable: A Simple Solutions to Complex Problems
Read: Adam Grant on having a "challenge network" (Knowledge at Wharton)

Michael Glazer is the creator and host of Humans At Work. His purpose in life is to make well-being at work a globally-accepted, basic human right. Learn more about Michael here.