How to master communication in problem solving

May 11, 2023 The path from problem to solution is not linear. In fast-moving, complex times, decision-makers can’t effectively act alone when it comes to solving complicated workplace problems; diverse perspectives and rigorous debate are crucial to determining the best steps to take. What’s missing in many companies is the use of “contributory dissent,” or the capabilities required to engage in healthy if divergent discussions about critical business problems, write Ben Fletcher , Chris Hartley , Rupert Hoskin , and Dana Maor  in a recent article . Contributory dissent allows individuals and groups to air their differences in a way that moves the discussion toward a positive outcome and doesn’t undermine leadership or group cohesion. Check out these insights to learn how to establish cultures and structures where individuals and teams feel free to bring innovative—and often better—alternative solutions to the table, and dive into the best ways to master communication in problem solving.

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10 Step Process for Effective Business Problem Solving

Posted august 3, 2021 by harriet genever.

Navigate uncertainty by following this 10-step process to develop your problem-solving skills and approach any issue with confidence. 

When you start a small business or launch a startup, the one thing you can count on is the unexpected. No matter how thoroughly you plan, forecast , and test, problems are bound to arise. This is why as an entrepreneur, you need to know how to solve business problems effectively.

What is problem solving in business?

Problem solving in business relates to establishing processes that mitigate or remove obstacles currently preventing you from reaching strategic goals . These are typically complex issues that create a gap between actual results and your desired outcome. They may be present in a single team, operational process, or throughout your entire organization, typically without an immediate or obvious solution. 

To approach problem solving successfully, you need to establish consistent processes that help you evaluate, explore solutions, prioritize execution, and measure success. In many ways, it should be similar to how you review business performance through a monthly plan review . You work through the same documentation, look for gaps, dig deeper to identify the root cause, and hash out options. Without this process, you simply cannot expect to solve problems efficiently or effectively. 

Why problem solving is important for your business

While some would say problem-solving comes naturally, it’s actually a skill you can grow and refine over time. Problem solving skills will help you and your team tackle critical issues and conflicts as they arise. It starts from the top. You as the business owner or CEO needing to display the type of level-headed problem solving that you expect to see from your employees.

Doing so will help you and your staff quickly deal with issues, establish and refine a problem solving process, turn challenges into opportunities, and generally keep a level head. Now, the best business leaders didn’t just find a magic solution to solve their problems, they built processes and leveraged tools to find success. And you can do the same.

By following this 10-step process, you can develop your problem-solving skills and approach any issue that arises with confidence. 

1. Define the problem

When a problem arises, it can be very easy to jump right into creating a solution. However, if you don’t thoroughly examine what led to the problem in the first place, you may create a strategy that doesn’t actually solve it. You may just be treating the symptoms.

For instance, if you realize that your sales from new customers are dropping, your first inclination might be to rush into putting together a marketing plan to increase exposure. But what if decreasing sales are just a symptom of the real problem? 

When you define the problem, you want to be sure you’re not missing the forest for the trees. If you have a large issue on your hands, you’ll want to look at it from several different angles:


Is a competitor’s promotion or pricing affecting your sales? Are there new entrants in your market? How are they marketing their product or business?

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Is your business model sustainable? Is it realistic for how fast you want to grow? Should you explore different pricing or cost strategies?

Market factors

How are world events and the nation’s economy affecting your customers and your sales?

Are there any issues affecting your team? Do they have the tools and resources they need to succeed? 

Goal alignment 

Is everyone on your team working toward the same goal ? Have you communicated your short-term and long-term business goals clearly and often?

There are a lot of ways to approach the issue when you’re facing a serious business problem. The key is to make sure you’re getting a full snapshot of what’s going on so you don’t waste money and resources on band-aid solutions. 

Going back to our example, by looking at every facet of your business, you may discover that you’re spending more on advertising than your competitors already. And instead, there’s a communication gap within your team that’s leading to the mishandling of new customers and therefore lost sales. 

If you jumped into fixing the exposure of your brand, you would have been dumping more money into an area you’re already winning. Potentially leading to greater losses as more and more new customers are dropped due to poor internal communication.

This is why it’s so vital that you explore your blind spots and track the problem to its source.

2. Conduct a SWOT analysis

All good businesses solve some sort of problem for customers. What if your particular business problem is actually an opportunity, or even a strength if considered from a different angle? This is when you’d want to conduct a SWOT analysis to determine if that is in fact the case.

SWOT is a great tool for strategic planning and bringing multiple viewpoints to the table when you’re looking at investing resources to solve a problem. This may even be incorporated in your attempts to identify the source of your problem, as it can quickly outline specific strengths and weaknesses of your business. And then by identifying any potential opportunities or threats, you can utilize your findings to kickstart a solution. 

3. Identify multiple solutions with design thinking

As you approach solving your problem, you may want to consider using the design thinking approach . It’s often used by organizations looking to solve big, community-based problems. One of its strengths is that it requires involving a wide range of people in the problem-solving process. Which leads to multiple perspectives and solutions arising.

This approach—applying your company’s skills and expertise to a problem in the market—is the basis for design thinking.

It’s not about finding the most complex problems to solve, but about finding common needs within the organization and in the real world and coming up with solutions that fit those needs. When you’re solving business problems, this applies in the sense that you’re looking for solutions that address underlying issues—you’re looking at the big picture.

4. Conduct market research and customer outreach

Market research and customer outreach aren’t the sorts of things small business owners and startups can do once and then cross off the list. When you’re facing a roadblock, think back to the last time you did some solid market research or took a deep dive into understanding the competitive landscape .

Market research and the insights you get from customer outreach aren’t a silver bullet. Many companies struggle with what they should do with conflicting data points. But it’s worth struggling through and gathering information that can help you better understand your target market . Plus, your customers can be one of the best sources of criticism. It’s actually a gift if you can avoid taking the negatives personally .

The worst thing you can do when you’re facing challenges is isolating yourself from your customers and ignore your competition. So survey your customers. Put together a competitive matrix . 

5. Seek input from your team and your mentors

Don’t do your SWOT analysis or design thinking work by yourself. The freedom to express concerns, opinions, and ideas will allow people in an organization to speak up. Their feedback is going to help you move faster and more efficiently. If you have a team in place, bring them into the discussion. You hired them to be experts in their area; use their expertise to navigate and dig deeper into underlying causes of problems and potential solutions.

If you’re running your business solo, at least bring in a trusted mentor. SCORE offers a free business mentorship program if you don’t already have one. It can also be helpful to connect with a strategic business advisor , especially if business financials aren’t your strongest suit.

Quoting Stephen Covey, who said that “strength lies in differences, not in similarities,” speaking to the importance of diversity when it comes to problem-solving in business. The more diverse a team is , the more often innovative solutions to the problems faced by the organization appear.

In fact, it has been found that groups that show greater diversity were better at solving problems than groups made up specifically of highly skilled problem solvers. So whoever you bring in to help you problem-solve, resist the urge to surround yourself with people who already agree with you about everything.

6. Apply lean planning for nimble execution

So you do your SWOT analysis and your design thinking exercise. You come up with a set of strong, data-driven ideas. But implementing them requires you to adjust your budget, or your strategic plan, or even your understanding of your target market.

Are you willing to change course? Can you quickly make adjustments? Well in order to grow, you can’t be afraid to be nimble . 

By adopting the lean business planning method —the process of revising your business strategy regularly—you’ll be able to shift your strategies more fluidly. You don’t want to change course every week, and you don’t want to fall victim to shiny object thinking. But you can strike a balance that allows you to reduce your business’s risk while keeping your team heading in the right direction.

Along the way, you’ll make strategic decisions that don’t pan out the way you hoped. The best thing you can do is test your ideas and iterate often so you’re not wasting money and resources on things that don’t work. That’s Lean Planning .

7. Model different financial scenarios

When you’re trying to solve a serious business problem, one of the best things you can do is build a few different financial forecasts so you can model different scenarios. You might find that the idea that seemed the strongest will take longer than you thought to reverse a negative financial trend. At the very least you’ll have better insight into the financial impact of moving in a different direction.

The real benefit here is looking at different tactical approaches to the same problem. Maybe instead of increasing sales right now, you’re better off in the long run if you adopt a strategy to reduce churn and retain your best customers. You won’t know unless you model a few different scenarios. You can do this by using spreadsheets, and a tool like LivePlan can make it easier and quicker.

8. Watch your cash flow

While you’re working to solve a challenging business problem, pay particular attention to your cash flow and your cash flow forecast . Understanding when your company is at risk of running out of cash in the bank can help you be proactive. It’s a lot easier to get a line of credit while your financials still look good and healthy, than when you’re one pay period away from ruin.

If you’re dealing with a serious issue, it’s easy to start to get tunnel vision. You’ll benefit from maintaining a little breathing room for your business as you figure out what to do next.

9. Use a decision-making framework

Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, generated a number of ideas, and done some financial modeling, you might still feel uncertain. It’s natural—you’re not a fortune-teller. You’re trying to make the best decision you can with the information you have.

This article offers a really useful approach to making decisions. It starts with putting your options into a matrix like this one:

what are problem solving skills in business communication

Use this sort of framework to put everything you’ve learned out on the table. If you’re working with a bigger team, this sort of exercise can also bring the rest of your team to the table so they feel some ownership over the outcome.

10. Identify key metrics to track

How will you know your problem is solved? And not just the symptom—how will you know when you’ve addressed the underlying issues? Before you dive into enacting the solution, make sure you know what success looks like.

Decide on a few key performance indicators . Take a baseline measurement, and set a goal and a timeframe. You’re essentially translating your solution into a plan, complete with milestones and goals. Without these, you’ve simply made a blind decision with no way to track success. You need those goals and milestones to make your plan real .

Problem solving skills to improve

As you and your team work through this process, it’s worth keeping in mind specific problem solving skills you should continue to develop. Bolstering your ability, as well as your team, to solve problems effectively will only make this process more useful and efficient. Here are a few key skills to work on.

Emotional intelligence

It can be very easy to make quick, emotional responses in a time of crisis or when discussing something you’re passionate about. To avoid making assumptions and letting your emotions get the best of you, you need to focus on empathizing with others. This involves understanding your own emotional state, reactions and listening carefully to the responses of your team. The more you’re able to listen carefully, the better you’ll be at asking for and taking advice that actually leads to effective problem solving.

Jumping right into a solution can immediately kill the possibility of solving your problem. Just like when you start a business , you need to do the research into what the problem you’re solving actually is. Luckily, you can embed research into your problem solving by holding active reviews of financial performance and team processes. Simply asking “What? Where? When? How?” can lead to more in-depth explorations of potential issues.

The best thing you can do to grow your research abilities is to encourage and practice curiosity. Look at every problem as an opportunity. Something that may be trouble now, but is worth exploring and finding the right solution. You’ll pick up best practices, useful tools and fine-tune your own research process the more you’re willing to explore.


Creatively brainstorming with your team is somewhat of an art form. There needs to be a willingness to throw everything at the wall and act as if nothing is a bad idea at the start. This style of collaboration encourages participation without fear of rejection. It also helps outline potential solutions outside of your current scope, that you can refine and turn into realistic action.

Work on breaking down problems and try to give everyone in the room a voice. The more input you allow, the greater potential you have for finding the best solution.


One thing that can drag out acting upon a potential solution, is being indecisive. If you aren’t willing to state when the final cutoff for deliberation is, you simply won’t take steps quickly enough. This is when having a process for problem solving comes in handy, as it purposefully outlines when you should start taking action.

Work on choosing decision-makers, identify necessary results and be prepared to analyze and adjust if necessary. You don’t have to get it right every time, but taking action at the right time, even if it fails, is almost more vital than never taking a step.  

Stemming off failure, you need to learn to be resilient. Again, no one gets it perfect every single time. There are so many factors in play to consider and sometimes even the most well-thought-out solution doesn’t stick. Instead of being down on yourself or your team, look to separate yourself from the problem and continue to think of it as a puzzle worth solving. Every failure is a learning opportunity and it only helps you further refine and eliminate issues in your strategy.

Problem solving is a process

The key to effective problem-solving in business is the ability to adapt. You can waste a lot of resources on staying the wrong course for too long. So make a plan to reduce your risk now. Think about what you’d do if you were faced with a problem large enough to sink your business. Be as proactive as you can.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2016. It was updated in 2021.

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Harriet Genever

Harriet Genever

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8 Essential Leadership Communication Skills

Businessman leading team during meeting

  • 14 Nov 2019

If you want to be an effective leader , you need to excel in communication. In fact, the success of your business relies on it.

According to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (pdf) , poor communication can lead to low morale, missed performance goals, and even lost sales. A separate study found that inadequate communication can cost large companies an average of $64.2 million per year, while smaller organizations are at risk of losing $420,000 annually.

But effective communication impacts more than just the bottom line. For leaders, it’s what enables them to rally their team around a shared vision, empower employees , build trust, and successfully navigate organizational change .

Why Is Communication Important in Leadership?

A leader is someone who inspires positive, incremental change by empowering those around them to work toward common objectives. A leader’s most powerful tool for doing so is communication.

Effective communication is vital to gain trust, align efforts in the pursuit of goals, and inspire positive change. When communication is lacking, important information can be misinterpreted, causing relationships to suffer and, ultimately, creating barriers that hinder progress.

If you’re interested in enhancing your leadership capabilities, here are eight communication skills you need to be more effective in your role.

How to Become a More Effective Leader | Access Your Free E-Book | Download Now

Essential Communication Skills for Leaders

1. ability to adapt your communication style.

Different communication styles are the most frequently cited cause of poor communication, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (pdf) , and can lead to more significant issues, such as unclear priorities and increased stress.

It’s essential to identify your leadership style , so that you can better understand how you’re interacting with, and perceived by, employees across the organization. For example, if you’re an authoritative leader , you likely have a clear vision for achieving success and align your team accordingly. While an effective approach for some, it might fall flat for others who seek more autonomy in their role.

Every employee’s motivations are different, so knowing how to tailor your communication is essential to influencing others and reaching organizational goals.

Related: 4 Tips for Developing Your Personal Leadership Style

2. Active Listening

Effective leaders know when they need to talk and, more importantly, when they need to listen. Show that you care by asking for employees’ opinions, ideas, and feedback. And when they do share, actively engage in the conversation—pose questions, invite them to elaborate, and take notes.

It’s important to stay in the moment and avoid interrupting. Keep your focus on the employee and what it is they’re saying. To achieve that, you also need to eliminate any distractions, including constant pings on your cell phone or checking incoming emails.

3. Transparency

In a survey by the American Management Association , more than a third of senior managers, executives, and employees said they “hardly ever” know what’s going on in their organizations. Transparency can go a long way in breaking down that communication barrier.

By speaking openly about the company’s goals, opportunities, and challenges, leaders can build trust amongst their team and foster an environment where employees feel empowered to share their ideas and collaborate. Just acknowledging mistakes can encourage experimentation and create a safe space for active problem-solving.

Every individual should understand the role they play in the company’s success. The more transparent leaders are, the easier it is for employees to make that connection.

When communicating with employees, speak in specifics. Define the desired result of a project or strategic initiative and be clear about what you want to see achieved by the end of each milestone. If goals aren’t being met, try simplifying your message further or ask how you can provide additional clarity or help.

The more clear you are, the less confusion there will be around priorities. Employees will know what they’re working toward and feel more engaged in the process.

5. Ability to Ask Open-Ended Questions

If you want to understand employees’ motivations, thoughts, and goals better, practice asking open-ended questions. Jennifer Currence, president of consulting firm The Currence Group, said to the Society of Human Resource Management to use the acronym TED, which stands for:

  • “ T ell me more.”
  • “ E xplain what you mean.”
  • “ D efine that term or concept for me.”

By leveraging those phrases when speaking with your team, you can elicit more thoughtful, thorough responses and ensure you also have clarity around what they need from you to succeed.

There’s a reason empathy has been ranked the top leadership skill needed for success . The better you get at acknowledging and understanding employees’ feelings and experiences, the more heard and valued they’ll feel.

In a recent survey (pdf) , 96 percent of respondents said it was important for their employers to demonstrate empathy, yet 92 percent claimed it remains undervalued. If you want to improve your communication and build a stronger, more productive culture, practice responding with empathy.

Related: Emotional Intelligence Skills: What They Are & How to Develop Them

7. Open Body Language

Communication isn’t just what you say; it’s how you carry yourself. Ninety-three percent of communication’s impact comes from nonverbal cues, according to executive coach Darlene Price .

To ensure you’re conveying the right message, focus on your body language. If you’re trying to inspire someone, talking with clenched fists and a furrowed brow isn’t going to send the right message. Instead, make eye contact to establish interest and rapport and flash a genuine smile to convey warmth and trust.

8. Receiving and Implementing Feedback

Asking for feedback from your team can not only help you grow as a leader, but build trust among your colleagues. It’s critical, though, that you don’t just listen to the feedback. You also need to act on it.

If you continue to receive feedback from your team, but don’t implement any changes, they’re going to lose faith in your ability to follow through. It’s likely there will be comments you can’t immediately act on—be transparent about that. By letting your employees know they were heard and then apprising them of any progress you can, or do, make, they’ll feel as though you value their perspective and are serious about improving.

Related: How to Give Feedback Effectively

Leadership Principles | Unlock your leadership potential | Learn More

Improving Your Leadership Communication

Communication is at the core of effective leadership. If you want to influence and inspire your team, you need to practice empathy and transparency, and understand how others perceive you, through your verbal and non-verbal cues.

To improve your communication skills and become a better leader, begin by assessing your effectiveness so you can identify areas for improvement. Then, set goals and hold yourself accountable by creating a leadership development plan to guide and track your progress.

Do you want to enhance your leadership skills? Download our free leadership e-book and explore our online course Leadership Principles to discover how you can become a more effective leader and unleash the potential in yourself and others.

(This post was updated on June 16, 2020. It was originally published on November 14, 2019.)

what are problem solving skills in business communication

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1.1 KEY CONCEPT: Problem-Solving Approach to Communications Tasks

In the workplace, many of the communications tasks you perform are designed to solve a problem or improve a situation. Whether you are doing work for a client, for your employer, with your team, or for someone else, you will typically use some sort of design process to tackle and solve the problem. A clearly-articulated design process provides you with a clear, step-by-step plan for finding the best solution for your situation.

Take a moment to search the Internet for the term “design process” and look at “images.” You will find many variations. Have a look at several of them and see if you can find a common pattern.

One commonality you will likely find in examining other people’s design process diagrams is this: the first step in designing any solution is to clearly define the problem . Figure 1.1.1 shows a typical design process, from problem definition to communicating the solution. Think about the kind of communication that each step of this process might entail.

Engineering Design Process, with Steps listed in a circle; from the top: "Define the Problem," "Establish Criteria and Constraints," "Brainstorm possible solutions," "Research," "Consider Alternative Solutions," "Select an Approach," "Develop a Proposal," "Prototype, Test, and Refine the Design," "Communicate Results."

You cannot begin to work on solutions until you have a clear definition of the problem and goals you want to achieve. This critical first stage of the design process requires that you effectively communicate with the “client” or whoever has the “problem” that needs solving. Poor communication at this stage can derail a project from the start. The rest of the process might seem linear and straightforward, but it is normal to “iterate” or return to previous steps several times throughout the process. Keep in mind that not all projects will go through all steps in this process; and some projects might require additional steps not included in this process.

For our purposes, we will use Barry Hyman’s Problem Formulation model  [1] to clearly define a problem. Hyman’s Problem Formulation model consists of 4 elements:

  • Need Statement: recognizes and describes the need for a solution or improvement to an “unsatisfactory situation.”  It answers the questions, “what is wrong with the way things are currently? What is unsatisfactory about it? What negative effects does this situation cause?” You may need to do research and supply data to quantify the negative effects.
  • Goal Statement:   describes what the improved situation would look like once a solution has been implemented. The goal statement defines the scope of your search for a solution. At this point, do not describe your solution, only the goal that any proposed solution should achieve. The broader you make your goal, the more numerous and varied your solutions can be; a narrowly focused goal limits the number and variety of possible solutions.
  • Objectives :  define measurable, specific outcomes that any feasible solution should optimize (aspects you can use to “grade” the effectiveness of the solution). Objectives provide you with ways to quantifiably measure how well any solution will solve the problem; ideally, they will allow you to compare multiple solutions and determine which one is most effective (which one gets the highest score on meeting the objectives?).
  • Constraints :  define the limits that any feasible solution must adhere to in order to be acceptable (pass/fail conditions, range limits, etc .). The key word here is must — constraints are the “go/no go” conditions that determine whether a solution is acceptable or not.  These often include budget and time limits, as well as legal, safety and other regulatory requirements.

Communication as Solution

This model can apply to a communications task as well as more physical design tasks. Imagine your communications task as something that will solve a problem or improve a situation. Before you begin drafting this document or presentation, define the problem you want to solve with this document:

  • A potential client lacks sufficient information on whether the solution I have proposed to solve the client’s problem will be feasible, affordable, and effective.
  • My instructor lacks sufficient examples of my written work to assign a grade for how well I met the course learning objectives. 
  • Provide the client with enough information, in an effective and readable format, to make a decision (ideally, to hire you to build the solution for the problem).
  • Provide my instructor with samples of my writing that demonstrate my achievement of the course learning objectives (provide relevant and complete  information in a professionally appropriate forma t, using evidence-based argument; earn an A+ grade on the assignment. )
  • Review the client’s RFP to see what specific objectives it lists and how your proposal will be assessed.
  • Review the Assignment Description and G rading Rubric for your assignment to determin e specific requirements and learning objectives that your instructor will use to evaluate your work.
  • how much time is your audience willing to spend on this? How long can you make your document or presentation? (word length/time limit)
  • What format and style do they require? Is there a Style Guide you must follow? A template you can use?
  • How much time do you have to create it?  Do you have a deadline? (due date)
  • Are there requirements for using sources? (academic integrity rules)

Keep in mind that the document you produce is evaluated in terms of how well it responds to the “problem” — that is, how well it meets the overall goal and demonstrates achievement of specific objectives while abiding by constraints.

EXERCISE 1.2 Define a problem

Think of a problem or an “unsatisfactory situation” that you have recently experienced.  It could be as simple as it’s 8pm, I haven’t had dinner yet, and I’m hungry . Use Hymen’s Problem Formulation schema to formally define the problem — without proposing any particular solutions. Your problem definition should ideally allow multiple possible solutions that adhere to the following:

  • Need/Unsatisfactory situation:
  • What is your goal?
  • What are some measurable objectives you want to achieve?
  • What are your constraints?

Download and use the attached Problem Definition Template (.docx)

  • B. Hyman, “Ch. 2: Problem formulation,” in Fundamentals of Engineering Design , Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002, pp. 40-54. ↵

Technical Writing Essentials Copyright © 2019 by Suzan Last is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How to improve your problem solving skills and build effective problem solving strategies

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Effective problem solving is all about using the right process and following a plan tailored to the issue at hand. Recognizing your team or organization has an issue isn’t enough to come up with effective problem solving strategies. 

To truly understand a problem and develop appropriate solutions, you will want to follow a solid process, follow the necessary problem solving steps, and bring all of your problem solving skills to the table.  

We’ll first guide you through the seven step problem solving process you and your team can use to effectively solve complex business challenges. We’ll also look at what problem solving strategies you can employ with your team when looking for a way to approach the process. We’ll then discuss the problem solving skills you need to be more effective at solving problems, complete with an activity from the SessionLab library you can use to develop that skill in your team.

Let’s get to it! 

What is a problem solving process?

  • What are the problem solving steps I need to follow?

Problem solving strategies

What skills do i need to be an effective problem solver, how can i improve my problem solving skills.

Solving problems is like baking a cake. You can go straight into the kitchen without a recipe or the right ingredients and do your best, but the end result is unlikely to be very tasty!

Using a process to bake a cake allows you to use the best ingredients without waste, collect the right tools, account for allergies, decide whether it is a birthday or wedding cake, and then bake efficiently and on time. The result is a better cake that is fit for purpose, tastes better and has created less mess in the kitchen. Also, it should have chocolate sprinkles. Having a step by step process to solve organizational problems allows you to go through each stage methodically and ensure you are trying to solve the right problems and select the most appropriate, effective solutions.

What are the problem solving steps I need to follow? 

All problem solving processes go through a number of steps in order to move from identifying a problem to resolving it.

Depending on your problem solving model and who you ask, there can be anything between four and nine problem solving steps you should follow in order to find the right solution. Whatever framework you and your group use, there are some key items that should be addressed in order to have an effective process.

We’ve looked at problem solving processes from sources such as the American Society for Quality and their four step approach , and Mediate ‘s six step process. By reflecting on those and our own problem solving processes, we’ve come up with a sequence of seven problem solving steps we feel best covers everything you need in order to effectively solve problems.

seven step problem solving process

1. Problem identification 

The first stage of any problem solving process is to identify the problem or problems you might want to solve. Effective problem solving strategies always begin by allowing a group scope to articulate what they believe the problem to be and then coming to some consensus over which problem they approach first. Problem solving activities used at this stage often have a focus on creating frank, open discussion so that potential problems can be brought to the surface.

2. Problem analysis 

Though this step is not a million miles from problem identification, problem analysis deserves to be considered separately. It can often be an overlooked part of the process and is instrumental when it comes to developing effective solutions.

The process of problem analysis means ensuring that the problem you are seeking to solve is the right problem . As part of this stage, you may look deeper and try to find the root cause of a specific problem at a team or organizational level.

Remember that problem solving strategies should not only be focused on putting out fires in the short term but developing long term solutions that deal with the root cause of organizational challenges. 

Whatever your approach, analyzing a problem is crucial in being able to select an appropriate solution and the problem solving skills deployed in this stage are beneficial for the rest of the process and ensuring the solutions you create are fit for purpose.

3. Solution generation

Once your group has nailed down the particulars of the problem you wish to solve, you want to encourage a free flow of ideas connecting to solving that problem. This can take the form of problem solving games that encourage creative thinking or problem solving activities designed to produce working prototypes of possible solutions. 

The key to ensuring the success of this stage of the problem solving process is to encourage quick, creative thinking and create an open space where all ideas are considered. The best solutions can come from unlikely places and by using problem solving techniques that celebrate invention, you might come up with solution gold. 

4. Solution development

No solution is likely to be perfect right out of the gate. It’s important to discuss and develop the solutions your group has come up with over the course of following the previous problem solving steps in order to arrive at the best possible solution. Problem solving games used in this stage involve lots of critical thinking, measuring potential effort and impact, and looking at possible solutions analytically. 

During this stage, you will often ask your team to iterate and improve upon your frontrunning solutions and develop them further. Remember that problem solving strategies always benefit from a multitude of voices and opinions, and not to let ego get involved when it comes to choosing which solutions to develop and take further.

Finding the best solution is the goal of all problem solving workshops and here is the place to ensure that your solution is well thought out, sufficiently robust and fit for purpose. 

5. Decision making 

Nearly there! Once your group has reached consensus and selected a solution that applies to the problem at hand you have some decisions to make. You will want to work on allocating ownership of the project, figure out who will do what, how the success of the solution will be measured and decide the next course of action.

The decision making stage is a part of the problem solving process that can get missed or taken as for granted. Fail to properly allocate roles and plan out how a solution will actually be implemented and it less likely to be successful in solving the problem.

Have clear accountabilities, actions, timeframes, and follow-ups. Make these decisions and set clear next-steps in the problem solving workshop so that everyone is aligned and you can move forward effectively as a group. 

Ensuring that you plan for the roll-out of a solution is one of the most important problem solving steps. Without adequate planning or oversight, it can prove impossible to measure success or iterate further if the problem was not solved. 

6. Solution implementation 

This is what we were waiting for! All problem solving strategies have the end goal of implementing a solution and solving a problem in mind. 

Remember that in order for any solution to be successful, you need to help your group through all of the previous problem solving steps thoughtfully. Only then can you ensure that you are solving the right problem but also that you have developed the correct solution and can then successfully implement and measure the impact of that solution.

Project management and communication skills are key here – your solution may need to adjust when out in the wild or you might discover new challenges along the way.

7. Solution evaluation 

So you and your team developed a great solution to a problem and have a gut feeling its been solved. Work done, right? Wrong. All problem solving strategies benefit from evaluation, consideration, and feedback. You might find that the solution does not work for everyone, might create new problems, or is potentially so successful that you will want to roll it out to larger teams or as part of other initiatives. 

None of that is possible without taking the time to evaluate the success of the solution you developed in your problem solving model and adjust if necessary.

Remember that the problem solving process is often iterative and it can be common to not solve complex issues on the first try. Even when this is the case, you and your team will have generated learning that will be important for future problem solving workshops or in other parts of the organization. 

It’s worth underlining how important record keeping is throughout the problem solving process. If a solution didn’t work, you need to have the data and records to see why that was the case. If you go back to the drawing board, notes from the previous workshop can help save time. Data and insight is invaluable at every stage of the problem solving process and this one is no different.

Problem solving workshops made easy

what are problem solving skills in business communication

Problem solving strategies are methods of approaching and facilitating the process of problem-solving with a set of techniques , actions, and processes. Different strategies are more effective if you are trying to solve broad problems such as achieving higher growth versus more focused problems like, how do we improve our customer onboarding process?

Broadly, the problem solving steps outlined above should be included in any problem solving strategy though choosing where to focus your time and what approaches should be taken is where they begin to differ. You might find that some strategies ask for the problem identification to be done prior to the session or that everything happens in the course of a one day workshop.

The key similarity is that all good problem solving strategies are structured and designed. Four hours of open discussion is never going to be as productive as a four-hour workshop designed to lead a group through a problem solving process.

Good problem solving strategies are tailored to the team, organization and problem you will be attempting to solve. Here are some example problem solving strategies you can learn from or use to get started.

Use a workshop to lead a team through a group process

Often, the first step to solving problems or organizational challenges is bringing a group together effectively. Most teams have the tools, knowledge, and expertise necessary to solve their challenges – they just need some guidance in how to use leverage those skills and a structure and format that allows people to focus their energies.

Facilitated workshops are one of the most effective ways of solving problems of any scale. By designing and planning your workshop carefully, you can tailor the approach and scope to best fit the needs of your team and organization. 

Problem solving workshop

  • Creating a bespoke, tailored process
  • Tackling problems of any size
  • Building in-house workshop ability and encouraging their use

Workshops are an effective strategy for solving problems. By using tried and test facilitation techniques and methods, you can design and deliver a workshop that is perfectly suited to the unique variables of your organization. You may only have the capacity for a half-day workshop and so need a problem solving process to match. 

By using our session planner tool and importing methods from our library of 700+ facilitation techniques, you can create the right problem solving workshop for your team. It might be that you want to encourage creative thinking or look at things from a new angle to unblock your groups approach to problem solving. By tailoring your workshop design to the purpose, you can help ensure great results.

One of the main benefits of a workshop is the structured approach to problem solving. Not only does this mean that the workshop itself will be successful, but many of the methods and techniques will help your team improve their working processes outside of the workshop. 

We believe that workshops are one of the best tools you can use to improve the way your team works together. Start with a problem solving workshop and then see what team building, culture or design workshops can do for your organization!

Run a design sprint

Great for: 

  • aligning large, multi-discipline teams
  • quickly designing and testing solutions
  • tackling large, complex organizational challenges and breaking them down into smaller tasks

By using design thinking principles and methods, a design sprint is a great way of identifying, prioritizing and prototyping solutions to long term challenges that can help solve major organizational problems with quick action and measurable results.

Some familiarity with design thinking is useful, though not integral, and this strategy can really help a team align if there is some discussion around which problems should be approached first. 

The stage-based structure of the design sprint is also very useful for teams new to design thinking.  The inspiration phase, where you look to competitors that have solved your problem, and the rapid prototyping and testing phases are great for introducing new concepts that will benefit a team in all their future work. 

It can be common for teams to look inward for solutions and so looking to the market for solutions you can iterate on can be very productive. Instilling an agile prototyping and testing mindset can also be great when helping teams move forwards – generating and testing solutions quickly can help save time in the long run and is also pretty exciting!

Break problems down into smaller issues

Organizational challenges and problems are often complicated and large scale in nature. Sometimes, trying to resolve such an issue in one swoop is simply unachievable or overwhelming. Try breaking down such problems into smaller issues that you can work on step by step. You may not be able to solve the problem of churning customers off the bat, but you can work with your team to identify smaller effort but high impact elements and work on those first.

This problem solving strategy can help a team generate momentum, prioritize and get some easy wins. It’s also a great strategy to employ with teams who are just beginning to learn how to approach the problem solving process. If you want some insight into a way to employ this strategy, we recommend looking at our design sprint template below!

Use guiding frameworks or try new methodologies

Some problems are best solved by introducing a major shift in perspective or by using new methodologies that encourage your team to think differently.

Props and tools such as Methodkit , which uses a card-based toolkit for facilitation, or Lego Serious Play can be great ways to engage your team and find an inclusive, democratic problem solving strategy. Remember that play and creativity are great tools for achieving change and whatever the challenge, engaging your participants can be very effective where other strategies may have failed.

LEGO Serious Play

  • Improving core problem solving skills
  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Encouraging creative solutions

LEGO Serious Play is a problem solving methodology designed to get participants thinking differently by using 3D models and kinesthetic learning styles. By physically building LEGO models based on questions and exercises, participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and create their own responses. 

Collaborate LEGO Serious Play exercises are also used to encourage communication and build problem solving skills in a group. By using this problem solving process, you can often help different kinds of learners and personality types contribute and unblock organizational problems with creative thinking. 

Problem solving strategies like LEGO Serious Play are super effective at helping a team solve more skills-based problems such as communication between teams or a lack of creative thinking. Some problems are not suited to LEGO Serious Play and require a different problem solving strategy.

Card Decks and Method Kits

  • New facilitators or non-facilitators 
  • Approaching difficult subjects with a simple, creative framework
  • Engaging those with varied learning styles

Card decks and method kids are great tools for those new to facilitation or for whom facilitation is not the primary role. Card decks such as the emotional culture deck can be used for complete workshops and in many cases, can be used right out of the box. Methodkit has a variety of kits designed for scenarios ranging from personal development through to personas and global challenges so you can find the right deck for your particular needs.

Having an easy to use framework that encourages creativity or a new approach can take some of the friction or planning difficulties out of the workshop process and energize a team in any setting. Simplicity is the key with these methods. By ensuring everyone on your team can get involved and engage with the process as quickly as possible can really contribute to the success of your problem solving strategy.

Source external advice

Looking to peers, experts and external facilitators can be a great way of approaching the problem solving process. Your team may not have the necessary expertise, insights of experience to tackle some issues, or you might simply benefit from a fresh perspective. Some problems may require bringing together an entire team, and coaching managers or team members individually might be the right approach. Remember that not all problems are best resolved in the same manner.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur, peer groups, coaches and mentors can also be invaluable at not only solving specific business problems, but in providing a support network for resolving future challenges. One great approach is to join a Mastermind Group and link up with like-minded individuals and all grow together. Remember that however you approach the sourcing of external advice, do so thoughtfully, respectfully and honestly. Reciprocate where you can and prepare to be surprised by just how kind and helpful your peers can be!

Mastermind Group

  • Solo entrepreneurs or small teams with low capacity
  • Peer learning and gaining outside expertise
  • Getting multiple external points of view quickly

Problem solving in large organizations with lots of skilled team members is one thing, but how about if you work for yourself or in a very small team without the capacity to get the most from a design sprint or LEGO Serious Play session? 

A mastermind group – sometimes known as a peer advisory board – is where a group of people come together to support one another in their own goals, challenges, and businesses. Each participant comes to the group with their own purpose and the other members of the group will help them create solutions, brainstorm ideas, and support one another. 

Mastermind groups are very effective in creating an energized, supportive atmosphere that can deliver meaningful results. Learning from peers from outside of your organization or industry can really help unlock new ways of thinking and drive growth. Access to the experience and skills of your peers can be invaluable in helping fill the gaps in your own ability, particularly in young companies.

A mastermind group is a great solution for solo entrepreneurs, small teams, or for organizations that feel that external expertise or fresh perspectives will be beneficial for them. It is worth noting that Mastermind groups are often only as good as the participants and what they can bring to the group. Participants need to be committed, engaged and understand how to work in this context. 

Coaching and mentoring

  • Focused learning and development
  • Filling skills gaps
  • Working on a range of challenges over time

Receiving advice from a business coach or building a mentor/mentee relationship can be an effective way of resolving certain challenges. The one-to-one format of most coaching and mentor relationships can really help solve the challenges those individuals are having and benefit the organization as a result.

A great mentor can be invaluable when it comes to spotting potential problems before they arise and coming to understand a mentee very well has a host of other business benefits. You might run an internal mentorship program to help develop your team’s problem solving skills and strategies or as part of a large learning and development program. External coaches can also be an important part of your problem solving strategy, filling skills gaps for your management team or helping with specific business issues. 

Now we’ve explored the problem solving process and the steps you will want to go through in order to have an effective session, let’s look at the skills you and your team need to be more effective problem solvers.

Problem solving skills are highly sought after, whatever industry or team you work in. Organizations are keen to employ people who are able to approach problems thoughtfully and find strong, realistic solutions. Whether you are a facilitator , a team leader or a developer, being an effective problem solver is a skill you’ll want to develop.

Problem solving skills form a whole suite of techniques and approaches that an individual uses to not only identify problems but to discuss them productively before then developing appropriate solutions.

Here are some of the most important problem solving skills everyone from executives to junior staff members should learn. We’ve also included an activity or exercise from the SessionLab library that can help you and your team develop that skill. 

If you’re running a workshop or training session to try and improve problem solving skills in your team, try using these methods to supercharge your process!

Problem solving skills checklist

Active listening

Active listening is one of the most important skills anyone who works with people can possess. In short, active listening is a technique used to not only better understand what is being said by an individual, but also to be more aware of the underlying message the speaker is trying to convey. When it comes to problem solving, active listening is integral for understanding the position of every participant and to clarify the challenges, ideas and solutions they bring to the table.

Some active listening skills include:

  • Paying complete attention to the speaker.
  • Removing distractions.
  • Avoid interruption.
  • Taking the time to fully understand before preparing a rebuttal.
  • Responding respectfully and appropriately.
  • Demonstrate attentiveness and positivity with an open posture, making eye contact with the speaker, smiling and nodding if appropriate. Show that you are listening and encourage them to continue.
  • Be aware of and respectful of feelings. Judge the situation and respond appropriately. You can disagree without being disrespectful.   
  • Observe body language. 
  • Paraphrase what was said in your own words, either mentally or verbally.
  • Remain neutral. 
  • Reflect and take a moment before responding.
  • Ask deeper questions based on what is said and clarify points where necessary.   
Active Listening   #hyperisland   #skills   #active listening   #remote-friendly   This activity supports participants to reflect on a question and generate their own solutions using simple principles of active listening and peer coaching. It’s an excellent introduction to active listening but can also be used with groups that are already familiar with it. Participants work in groups of three and take turns being: “the subject”, the listener, and the observer.

Analytical skills

All problem solving models require strong analytical skills, particularly during the beginning of the process and when it comes to analyzing how solutions have performed.

Analytical skills are primarily focused on performing an effective analysis by collecting, studying and parsing data related to a problem or opportunity. 

It often involves spotting patterns, being able to see things from different perspectives and using observable facts and data to make suggestions or produce insight. 

Analytical skills are also important at every stage of the problem solving process and by having these skills, you can ensure that any ideas or solutions you create or backed up analytically and have been sufficiently thought out.

Nine Whys   #innovation   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   With breathtaking simplicity, you can rapidly clarify for individuals and a group what is essentially important in their work. You can quickly reveal when a compelling purpose is missing in a gathering and avoid moving forward without clarity. When a group discovers an unambiguous shared purpose, more freedom and more responsibility are unleashed. You have laid the foundation for spreading and scaling innovations with fidelity.


Trying to solve problems on your own is difficult. Being able to collaborate effectively, with a free exchange of ideas, to delegate and be a productive member of a team is hugely important to all problem solving strategies.

Remember that whatever your role, collaboration is integral, and in a problem solving process, you are all working together to find the best solution for everyone. 

Marshmallow challenge with debriefing   #teamwork   #team   #leadership   #collaboration   In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top. The Marshmallow Challenge was developed by Tom Wujec, who has done the activity with hundreds of groups around the world. Visit the Marshmallow Challenge website for more information. This version has an extra debriefing question added with sample questions focusing on roles within the team.


Being an effective communicator means being empathetic, clear and succinct, asking the right questions, and demonstrating active listening skills throughout any discussion or meeting. 

In a problem solving setting, you need to communicate well in order to progress through each stage of the process effectively. As a team leader, it may also fall to you to facilitate communication between parties who may not see eye to eye. Effective communication also means helping others to express themselves and be heard in a group.

Bus Trip   #feedback   #communication   #appreciation   #closing   #thiagi   #team   This is one of my favourite feedback games. I use Bus Trip at the end of a training session or a meeting, and I use it all the time. The game creates a massive amount of energy with lots of smiles, laughs, and sometimes even a teardrop or two.

Creative problem solving skills can be some of the best tools in your arsenal. Thinking creatively, being able to generate lots of ideas and come up with out of the box solutions is useful at every step of the process. 

The kinds of problems you will likely discuss in a problem solving workshop are often difficult to solve, and by approaching things in a fresh, creative manner, you can often create more innovative solutions.

Having practical creative skills is also a boon when it comes to problem solving. If you can help create quality design sketches and prototypes in record time, it can help bring a team to alignment more quickly or provide a base for further iteration.

The paper clip method   #sharing   #creativity   #warm up   #idea generation   #brainstorming   The power of brainstorming. A training for project leaders, creativity training, and to catalyse getting new solutions.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is one of the fundamental problem solving skills you’ll want to develop when working on developing solutions. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, rationalize and evaluate while being aware of personal bias, outlying factors and remaining open-minded.

Defining and analyzing problems without deploying critical thinking skills can mean you and your team go down the wrong path. Developing solutions to complex issues requires critical thinking too – ensuring your team considers all possibilities and rationally evaluating them. 

Agreement-Certainty Matrix   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   #problem solving   You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic .  A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate.  It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably.  A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail.  Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward.  A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Data analysis 

Though it shares lots of space with general analytical skills, data analysis skills are something you want to cultivate in their own right in order to be an effective problem solver.

Being good at data analysis doesn’t just mean being able to find insights from data, but also selecting the appropriate data for a given issue, interpreting it effectively and knowing how to model and present that data. Depending on the problem at hand, it might also include a working knowledge of specific data analysis tools and procedures. 

Having a solid grasp of data analysis techniques is useful if you’re leading a problem solving workshop but if you’re not an expert, don’t worry. Bring people into the group who has this skill set and help your team be more effective as a result.

Decision making

All problems need a solution and all solutions require that someone make the decision to implement them. Without strong decision making skills, teams can become bogged down in discussion and less effective as a result. 

Making decisions is a key part of the problem solving process. It’s important to remember that decision making is not restricted to the leadership team. Every staff member makes decisions every day and developing these skills ensures that your team is able to solve problems at any scale. Remember that making decisions does not mean leaping to the first solution but weighing up the options and coming to an informed, well thought out solution to any given problem that works for the whole team.

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)   #action   #decision making   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #innovation   #design   #remote-friendly   The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow


Most complex organizational problems require multiple people to be involved in delivering the solution. Ensuring that the team and organization can depend on you to take the necessary actions and communicate where necessary is key to ensuring problems are solved effectively.

Being dependable also means working to deadlines and to brief. It is often a matter of creating trust in a team so that everyone can depend on one another to complete the agreed actions in the agreed time frame so that the team can move forward together. Being undependable can create problems of friction and can limit the effectiveness of your solutions so be sure to bear this in mind throughout a project. 

Team Purpose & Culture   #team   #hyperisland   #culture   #remote-friendly   This is an essential process designed to help teams define their purpose (why they exist) and their culture (how they work together to achieve that purpose). Defining these two things will help any team to be more focused and aligned. With support of tangible examples from other companies, the team members work as individuals and a group to codify the way they work together. The goal is a visual manifestation of both the purpose and culture that can be put up in the team’s work space.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important skill for any successful team member, whether communicating internally or with clients or users. In the problem solving process, emotional intelligence means being attuned to how people are feeling and thinking, communicating effectively and being self-aware of what you bring to a room. 

There are often differences of opinion when working through problem solving processes, and it can be easy to let things become impassioned or combative. Developing your emotional intelligence means being empathetic to your colleagues and managing your own emotions throughout the problem and solution process. Be kind, be thoughtful and put your points across care and attention. 

Being emotionally intelligent is a skill for life and by deploying it at work, you can not only work efficiently but empathetically. Check out the emotional culture workshop template for more!


As we’ve clarified in our facilitation skills post, facilitation is the art of leading people through processes towards agreed-upon objectives in a manner that encourages participation, ownership, and creativity by all those involved. While facilitation is a set of interrelated skills in itself, the broad definition of facilitation can be invaluable when it comes to problem solving. Leading a team through a problem solving process is made more effective if you improve and utilize facilitation skills – whether you’re a manager, team leader or external stakeholder.

The Six Thinking Hats   #creative thinking   #meeting facilitation   #problem solving   #issue resolution   #idea generation   #conflict resolution   The Six Thinking Hats are used by individuals and groups to separate out conflicting styles of thinking. They enable and encourage a group of people to think constructively together in exploring and implementing change, rather than using argument to fight over who is right and who is wrong.


Being flexible is a vital skill when it comes to problem solving. This does not mean immediately bowing to pressure or changing your opinion quickly: instead, being flexible is all about seeing things from new perspectives, receiving new information and factoring it into your thought process.

Flexibility is also important when it comes to rolling out solutions. It might be that other organizational projects have greater priority or require the same resources as your chosen solution. Being flexible means understanding needs and challenges across the team and being open to shifting or arranging your own schedule as necessary. Again, this does not mean immediately making way for other projects. It’s about articulating your own needs, understanding the needs of others and being able to come to a meaningful compromise.

The Creativity Dice   #creativity   #problem solving   #thiagi   #issue analysis   Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

Working in any group can lead to unconscious elements of groupthink or situations in which you may not wish to be entirely honest. Disagreeing with the opinions of the executive team or wishing to save the feelings of a coworker can be tricky to navigate, but being honest is absolutely vital when to comes to developing effective solutions and ensuring your voice is heard. 

Remember that being honest does not mean being brutally candid. You can deliver your honest feedback and opinions thoughtfully and without creating friction by using other skills such as emotional intelligence. 

Explore your Values   #hyperisland   #skills   #values   #remote-friendly   Your Values is an exercise for participants to explore what their most important values are. It’s done in an intuitive and rapid way to encourage participants to follow their intuitive feeling rather than over-thinking and finding the “correct” values. It is a good exercise to use to initiate reflection and dialogue around personal values.


The problem solving process is multi-faceted and requires different approaches at certain points of the process. Taking initiative to bring problems to the attention of the team, collect data or lead the solution creating process is always valuable. You might even roadtest your own small scale solutions or brainstorm before a session. Taking initiative is particularly effective if you have good deal of knowledge in that area or have ownership of a particular project and want to get things kickstarted.

That said, be sure to remember to honor the process and work in service of the team. If you are asked to own one part of the problem solving process and you don’t complete that task because your initiative leads you to work on something else, that’s not an effective method of solving business challenges.

15% Solutions   #action   #liberating structures   #remote-friendly   You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.  15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.  With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.


A particularly useful problem solving skill for product owners or managers is the ability to remain impartial throughout much of the process. In practice, this means treating all points of view and ideas brought forward in a meeting equally and ensuring that your own areas of interest or ownership are not favored over others. 

There may be a stage in the process where a decision maker has to weigh the cost and ROI of possible solutions against the company roadmap though even then, ensuring that the decision made is based on merit and not personal opinion. 

Empathy map   #frame insights   #create   #design   #issue analysis   An empathy map is a tool to help a design team to empathize with the people they are designing for. You can make an empathy map for a group of people or for a persona. To be used after doing personas when more insights are needed.

Being a good leader means getting a team aligned, energized and focused around a common goal. In the problem solving process, strong leadership helps ensure that the process is efficient, that any conflicts are resolved and that a team is managed in the direction of success.

It’s common for managers or executives to assume this role in a problem solving workshop, though it’s important that the leader maintains impartiality and does not bulldoze the group in a particular direction. Remember that good leadership means working in service of the purpose and team and ensuring the workshop is a safe space for employees of any level to contribute. Take a look at our leadership games and activities post for more exercises and methods to help improve leadership in your organization.

Leadership Pizza   #leadership   #team   #remote-friendly   This leadership development activity offers a self-assessment framework for people to first identify what skills, attributes and attitudes they find important for effective leadership, and then assess their own development and initiate goal setting.

In the context of problem solving, mediation is important in keeping a team engaged, happy and free of conflict. When leading or facilitating a problem solving workshop, you are likely to run into differences of opinion. Depending on the nature of the problem, certain issues may be brought up that are emotive in nature. 

Being an effective mediator means helping those people on either side of such a divide are heard, listen to one another and encouraged to find common ground and a resolution. Mediating skills are useful for leaders and managers in many situations and the problem solving process is no different.

Conflict Responses   #hyperisland   #team   #issue resolution   A workshop for a team to reflect on past conflicts, and use them to generate guidelines for effective conflict handling. The workshop uses the Thomas-Killman model of conflict responses to frame a reflective discussion. Use it to open up a discussion around conflict with a team.


Solving organizational problems is much more effective when following a process or problem solving model. Planning skills are vital in order to structure, deliver and follow-through on a problem solving workshop and ensure your solutions are intelligently deployed.

Planning skills include the ability to organize tasks and a team, plan and design the process and take into account any potential challenges. Taking the time to plan carefully can save time and frustration later in the process and is valuable for ensuring a team is positioned for success.

3 Action Steps   #hyperisland   #action   #remote-friendly   This is a small-scale strategic planning session that helps groups and individuals to take action toward a desired change. It is often used at the end of a workshop or programme. The group discusses and agrees on a vision, then creates some action steps that will lead them towards that vision. The scope of the challenge is also defined, through discussion of the helpful and harmful factors influencing the group.


As organisations grow, the scale and variation of problems they face multiplies. Your team or is likely to face numerous challenges in different areas and so having the skills to analyze and prioritize becomes very important, particularly for those in leadership roles.

A thorough problem solving process is likely to deliver multiple solutions and you may have several different problems you wish to solve simultaneously. Prioritization is the ability to measure the importance, value, and effectiveness of those possible solutions and choose which to enact and in what order. The process of prioritization is integral in ensuring the biggest challenges are addressed with the most impactful solutions.

Impact and Effort Matrix   #gamestorming   #decision making   #action   #remote-friendly   In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

Project management

Some problem solving skills are utilized in a workshop or ideation phases, while others come in useful when it comes to decision making. Overseeing an entire problem solving process and ensuring its success requires strong project management skills. 

While project management incorporates many of the other skills listed here, it is important to note the distinction of considering all of the factors of a project and managing them successfully. Being able to negotiate with stakeholders, manage tasks, time and people, consider costs and ROI, and tie everything together is massively helpful when going through the problem solving process. 

Record keeping

Working out meaningful solutions to organizational challenges is only one part of the process.  Thoughtfully documenting and keeping records of each problem solving step for future consultation is important in ensuring efficiency and meaningful change. 

For example, some problems may be lower priority than others but can be revisited in the future. If the team has ideated on solutions and found some are not up to the task, record those so you can rule them out and avoiding repeating work. Keeping records of the process also helps you improve and refine your problem solving model next time around!

Personal Kanban   #gamestorming   #action   #agile   #project planning   Personal Kanban is a tool for organizing your work to be more efficient and productive. It is based on agile methods and principles.

Research skills

Conducting research to support both the identification of problems and the development of appropriate solutions is important for an effective process. Knowing where to go to collect research, how to conduct research efficiently, and identifying pieces of research are relevant are all things a good researcher can do well. 

In larger groups, not everyone has to demonstrate this ability in order for a problem solving workshop to be effective. That said, having people with research skills involved in the process, particularly if they have existing area knowledge, can help ensure the solutions that are developed with data that supports their intention. Remember that being able to deliver the results of research efficiently and in a way the team can easily understand is also important. The best data in the world is only as effective as how it is delivered and interpreted.

Customer experience map   #ideation   #concepts   #research   #design   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   Customer experience mapping is a method of documenting and visualizing the experience a customer has as they use the product or service. It also maps out their responses to their experiences. To be used when there is a solution (even in a conceptual stage) that can be analyzed.

Risk management

Managing risk is an often overlooked part of the problem solving process. Solutions are often developed with the intention of reducing exposure to risk or solving issues that create risk but sometimes, great solutions are more experimental in nature and as such, deploying them needs to be carefully considered. 

Managing risk means acknowledging that there may be risks associated with more out of the box solutions or trying new things, but that this must be measured against the possible benefits and other organizational factors. 

Be informed, get the right data and stakeholders in the room and you can appropriately factor risk into your decision making process. 

Decisions, Decisions…   #communication   #decision making   #thiagi   #action   #issue analysis   When it comes to decision-making, why are some of us more prone to take risks while others are risk-averse? One explanation might be the way the decision and options were presented.  This exercise, based on Kahneman and Tversky’s classic study , illustrates how the framing effect influences our judgement and our ability to make decisions . The participants are divided into two groups. Both groups are presented with the same problem and two alternative programs for solving them. The two programs both have the same consequences but are presented differently. The debriefing discussion examines how the framing of the program impacted the participant’s decision.


No single person is as good at problem solving as a team. Building an effective team and helping them come together around a common purpose is one of the most important problem solving skills, doubly so for leaders. By bringing a team together and helping them work efficiently, you pave the way for team ownership of a problem and the development of effective solutions. 

In a problem solving workshop, it can be tempting to jump right into the deep end, though taking the time to break the ice, energize the team and align them with a game or exercise will pay off over the course of the day.

Remember that you will likely go through the problem solving process multiple times over an organization’s lifespan and building a strong team culture will make future problem solving more effective. It’s also great to work with people you know, trust and have fun with. Working on team building in and out of the problem solving process is a hallmark of successful teams that can work together to solve business problems.

9 Dimensions Team Building Activity   #ice breaker   #teambuilding   #team   #remote-friendly   9 Dimensions is a powerful activity designed to build relationships and trust among team members. There are 2 variations of this icebreaker. The first version is for teams who want to get to know each other better. The second version is for teams who want to explore how they are working together as a team.

Time management 

The problem solving process is designed to lead a team from identifying a problem through to delivering a solution and evaluating its effectiveness. Without effective time management skills or timeboxing of tasks, it can be easy for a team to get bogged down or be inefficient.

By using a problem solving model and carefully designing your workshop, you can allocate time efficiently and trust that the process will deliver the results you need in a good timeframe.

Time management also comes into play when it comes to rolling out solutions, particularly those that are experimental in nature. Having a clear timeframe for implementing and evaluating solutions is vital for ensuring their success and being able to pivot if necessary.

Improving your skills at problem solving is often a career-long pursuit though there are methods you can use to make the learning process more efficient and to supercharge your problem solving skillset.

Remember that the skills you need to be a great problem solver have a large overlap with those skills you need to be effective in any role. Investing time and effort to develop your active listening or critical thinking skills is valuable in any context. Here are 7 ways to improve your problem solving skills.

Share best practices

Remember that your team is an excellent source of skills, wisdom, and techniques and that you should all take advantage of one another where possible. Best practices that one team has for solving problems, conducting research or making decisions should be shared across the organization. If you have in-house staff that have done active listening training or are data analysis pros, have them lead a training session. 

Your team is one of your best resources. Create space and internal processes for the sharing of skills so that you can all grow together. 

Ask for help and attend training

Once you’ve figured out you have a skills gap, the next step is to take action to fill that skills gap. That might be by asking your superior for training or coaching, or liaising with team members with that skill set. You might even attend specialized training for certain skills – active listening or critical thinking, for example, are business-critical skills that are regularly offered as part of a training scheme.

Whatever method you choose, remember that taking action of some description is necessary for growth. Whether that means practicing, getting help, attending training or doing some background reading, taking active steps to improve your skills is the way to go.

Learn a process 

Problem solving can be complicated, particularly when attempting to solve large problems for the first time. Using a problem solving process helps give structure to your problem solving efforts and focus on creating outcomes, rather than worrying about the format. 

Tools such as the seven-step problem solving process above are effective because not only do they feature steps that will help a team solve problems, they also develop skills along the way. Each step asks for people to engage with the process using different skills and in doing so, helps the team learn and grow together. Group processes of varying complexity and purpose can also be found in the SessionLab library of facilitation techniques . Using a tried and tested process and really help ease the learning curve for both those leading such a process, as well as those undergoing the purpose.

Effective teams make decisions about where they should and shouldn’t expend additional effort. By using a problem solving process, you can focus on the things that matter, rather than stumbling towards a solution haphazardly. 

Create a feedback loop

Some skills gaps are more obvious than others. It’s possible that your perception of your active listening skills differs from those of your colleagues. 

It’s valuable to create a system where team members can provide feedback in an ordered and friendly manner so they can all learn from one another. Only by identifying areas of improvement can you then work to improve them. 

Remember that feedback systems require oversight and consideration so that they don’t turn into a place to complain about colleagues. Design the system intelligently so that you encourage the creation of learning opportunities, rather than encouraging people to list their pet peeves.

While practice might not make perfect, it does make the problem solving process easier. If you are having trouble with critical thinking, don’t shy away from doing it. Get involved where you can and stretch those muscles as regularly as possible. 

Problem solving skills come more naturally to some than to others and that’s okay. Take opportunities to get involved and see where you can practice your skills in situations outside of a workshop context. Try collaborating in other circumstances at work or conduct data analysis on your own projects. You can often develop those skills you need for problem solving simply by doing them. Get involved!

Use expert exercises and methods

Learn from the best. Our library of 700+ facilitation techniques is full of activities and methods that help develop the skills you need to be an effective problem solver. Check out our templates to see how to approach problem solving and other organizational challenges in a structured and intelligent manner.

There is no single approach to improving problem solving skills, but by using the techniques employed by others you can learn from their example and develop processes that have seen proven results. 

Try new ways of thinking and change your mindset

Using tried and tested exercises that you know well can help deliver results, but you do run the risk of missing out on the learning opportunities offered by new approaches. As with the problem solving process, changing your mindset can remove blockages and be used to develop your problem solving skills.

Most teams have members with mixed skill sets and specialties. Mix people from different teams and share skills and different points of view. Teach your customer support team how to use design thinking methods or help your developers with conflict resolution techniques. Try switching perspectives with facilitation techniques like Flip It! or by using new problem solving methodologies or models. Give design thinking, liberating structures or lego serious play a try if you want to try a new approach. You will find that framing problems in new ways and using existing skills in new contexts can be hugely useful for personal development and improving your skillset. It’s also a lot of fun to try new things. Give it a go!

Encountering business challenges and needing to find appropriate solutions is not unique to your organization. Lots of very smart people have developed methods, theories and approaches to help develop problem solving skills and create effective solutions. Learn from them!

Books like The Art of Thinking Clearly , Think Smarter, or Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow are great places to start, though it’s also worth looking at blogs related to organizations facing similar problems to yours, or browsing for success stories. Seeing how Dropbox massively increased growth and working backward can help you see the skills or approach you might be lacking to solve that same problem. Learning from others by reading their stories or approaches can be time-consuming but ultimately rewarding.

A tired, distracted mind is not in the best position to learn new skills. It can be tempted to burn the candle at both ends and develop problem solving skills outside of work. Absolutely use your time effectively and take opportunities for self-improvement, though remember that rest is hugely important and that without letting your brain rest, you cannot be at your most effective. 

Creating distance between yourself and the problem you might be facing can also be useful. By letting an idea sit, you can find that a better one presents itself or you can develop it further. Take regular breaks when working and create a space for downtime. Remember that working smarter is preferable to working harder and that self-care is important for any effective learning or improvement process.

Want to design better group processes?

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Over to you

Now we’ve explored some of the key problem solving skills and the problem solving steps necessary for an effective process, you’re ready to begin developing more effective solutions and leading problem solving workshops.

Need more inspiration? Check out our post on problem solving activities you can use when guiding a group towards a great solution in your next workshop or meeting. Have questions? Did you have a great problem solving technique you use with your team? Get in touch in the comments below. We’d love to chat!

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Improving Problem Solving Skills


Problem-solving skills are an important part of our lives. Be it a mundane daily activity or at work, most of the time our work is centred around problems and how to solve them. In a managerial set up, most of the work is problem-centric. Be it solving a problem for a client, supporting someone who is solving a problem or searching for new problems to be solved, problems define our activities. Problem-solving skills are, thus, important in the workplace.

Improving Problem Solving Skills

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Skills for Problem Solving

Different problems require different set of skills to be solved. For example, solving a problem for a client requires not just knowledge but also good verbal, listening and persuasion skills. Solving a problem within the organization with other employees require teamwork, coordination and effective communication among them. Hence, to improve problem-solving skills there needs to be effective communication and understanding of the situation.

Efficient Methods of Problem Solving

Problem-solving skills can be improved in many ways. There are four basic steps to efficient problem solving in any situation. They are:

  • Defining and understanding the problem
  • Searching for alternatives
  • Evaluating and selecting alternatives
  • Executing the solution

Defining and understanding the problem is the first step to problem-solving. It is important to look deeper into the problem beyond what might seem like the obvious.

For example :  The substandard performance of the employees might be seen as a result of laziness or an unwillingness to work and improve oneself. However, the real reason could be that the employees are untrained and unskilled at their jobs. Understanding the roots of the problem makes way for efficient search for solutions.

Now that the core of the problem has been identified, we need to search for alternative solutions to fix the problem. The aim is to find the most efficient and rational solution that is agreeable to all the parties involved.

Thus, if there is a difference in opinion regarding the implementation of a certain standard or protocol, the manager can either take a survey to understand the opinions of the employees or call a meeting to discuss and, if necessary, bring changes to the proposal.

Once all the alternatives are considered, we need to evaluate each and every single alternative so that we can come to a conclusion by selecting the most rational solution. Selecting the solution also requires the opinion of the employees and staff, what they consider to be the best option and how the executives in higher positions would react to it.

For example : Choosing between cheaper alternatives or low production due to a reduced budget depends on the situation of the firm. The cheaper alternatives for production will ensure the same number of units are produced, albeit low quality and hence, lower prices. Reduction in production, however, will ensure that the quality is good and the price of the product will be maintained or even raised.

Executing the solution requires the leadership of the manager and good and efficient coordination and communication with all the employees and entities. The problem will be directly handled at this stage and efforts will be made to change it.

For example : If the decision to use cheaper alternatives for production is made, then changes are made in the manner of production, networks are set up to get access to the cheaper alternative, bargaining and networking is made etc.

Thus, improving problem-solving skills require a basic knowledge of the situation as well as having the creativity and resources to solve it.

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Communication Theory

Develop Good Habits

12 Critical Business Communication Skills to Build

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Are you looking to improve your workplace skills? First of all, I commend you. Professional development benefits you greatly. It strengthens your confidence and job performance . Also, it can lead to career advancement or salary increases.

Above all, it makes you better at your job, which leads to greater personal satisfaction. So if you're searching for sure fire ways to improve your workplace skills, I suggest you start with these 12 critical business communication skills.

Table of Contents

What are Business Communication Skills?

Business communication skills are skills you use to share information at work. This includes information shared within the company or outside the company. This includes communicating upward, downward, or laterally.

You use them to communicate effectively with:

  • Other employees
  • Supervisors

As you can see, any time you communicate information at work, you are using these skills. This includes verbal, nonverbal, or written communication.

Why Are Business Communication Skills Important?

Effective business communication skills make for a stronger workplace. They:

  • Make for a smoother workflow
  • Reduce misunderstandings
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Increases team buy-in
  • Create a positive workplace culture

Personal Benefits of Improving Communication Skills

Not only do stronger communication skills help the organization you work for, but they benefit you, as well. As I stated earlier, they prepare you for career advancement.

In addition, improving your communication skills:

  • Increase your productivity
  • Create more opportunities for learning
  • Increase feedback
  • Open opportunities for creativity

Anytime you improve a skill, you're participating in personal growth. As part of this growth, you'll learn new things. In turn, you can share these with others, which encourages them to reciprocate. Also, it opens you up to feedback as people comment on your growth.

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Finally, knowing more ways to communicate at work provides you with more opportunities to communicate. Therefore, you get to be creative in your communication.

12 Critical Business Communication Skills

It's important that you build up the right business communication skills. Here are 12 skills critical to your success in any workplace environment. By strengthening these skills, you grow professionally no matter where you work.

Skill #1. Active Listening

Active listening requires more than just hearing what the other person is saying. You have to process and understand the message being communicated. Furthermore, you have to respond.

You have to provide feedback to the communicator. Communication is a process. The communicator shares the message. You, as the listener, hears, processes, and responds. Without proper feedback, communication breaks down.

Tips for active listening:

  • Pay Attention
  • Show you're listening: ask follow-up questions, nod, make eye contact
  • Give proper feedback- use positive, reinforcing words like “That's a good point.”
  • Remove distractions
  • Keep an open attitude
  • Refrain from judging

Active listening requires that you listen to learn. Consider the message from the other person's perspective. This will help you build trust. More importantly, it opens you up to other perspectives that you can learn from. Finally, it will keep you from experiencing conflict due to communication breakdown.

Skill #2. Collaboration

Learning to be part of a team includes more than just getting along. You have to learn to accept views different from your own. You have to lay aside your personal preferences for the betterment of the team. This requires compromise and synergy.

Collaboration requires that you work together to achieve the required result. Through the process, you'll grow personally. Whether it's a one-time collaboration or an on-going project, you'll be working with people that have skills you don't. Use teamwork as a learning opportunity.

Plus, promoting the other members of the team won't go unnoticed. It will open you up to more networking opportunities. People want to work with someone that promotes others. You'll find yourself being included in more collaboration projects because you're a team player.

Ultimately, collaboration creates a positive work environment. For example, it increases productivity. That old saying “Two heads are better than one” holds true. You can get more done easily by working as a team.

Remember, when the team wins, everyone wins.

Skill #3. Public Speaking

Whether you're giving a marketing presentation or taking someone's order in a restaurant, you need public speaking skills to communicate at work. Now, the purpose of these skills is not to get noticed. You need these skills so that you share the necessary information effectively.

Moreover, these skills help you be heard. They help you prepare and present your ideas concisely and clearly, whether you're speaking to 1 or 100. This includes informal or formal presentations.

Public speaking skills benefits include:

  • Making a connection with your audience
  • Developing language fluency
  • Strengthening your confidence
  • Motivating others to action

Whether you're talking to a customer or another employee, you can use public speaking skills to improve the delivery of your message. In fact, you can use them to influence your supervisor.

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Want to ask for a raise? Prepare a presentation on why you have earned a raise and present it to your boss. That's more effective than rambling through just asking them.

People trust somebody that's prepared. It shows you've thought through your message. With public speaking skills, you'll be able to do that.

Skill #4. Writing Skills

No matter the job-field, written communication remains a vital form of communication at work. Whether it's a printed document or a digital copy, there's so many workplace documents you have to fill out.

For example, you may have to complete:

  • Time-off Requests
  • Incident Reports

In fact, even before you get hired, you'll have already completed written documents. You either fill out an application, submit a resume, or a combination of both. Also, don't forget about emails.

Since you use written communication so much at work, it's important that you develop these skills. Improving these skills will help you communicate concretely and concisely so that your message is received. Also, they'll help you improve your professionalism.

Too many people approach workplace written communication informally. Even if you're friends with your coworkers, you're at work. Therefore, your communication needs to remain professional. Incidentally, your written communication can be positive and encouraging while remaining professional.

When it comes to written communication at work, remember:

  • Remember the audience, purpose, and form of your communication
  • Keep it professional
  • Use the right words and tone
  • Strive for clarity

This even goes for text messages. After all, they are a form of written communication. You might not want an autocorrect fail going out to your boss.

Skill #5. Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication makes up the majority of how we communicate. Some researchers suggest that nonverbal communication makes up 85% of your communication. Plus, nonverbal communication covers so many aspects of communication.

Nonverbal communication includes:

  • Body positioning
  • Eye Movement
  • Touch- a high five
  • Facial Expressions
  • Sounds- Grunts
  • Time Management

As you can see, everything about you communicates nonverbally at work. This includes your views on your appearance and time. For example, going to work in wrinkled clothes and being fifteen minutes late communicates that something has held you up. If I had to guess, I'd say you probably overslept.

Most of us don't even realize our nonverbal cues. Often, our nonverbal cues and verbal communication don't match. Interestingly, studies show that people will believe nonverbal communication over verbal communication. That's why it's important to improve your nonverbal communication.

Therefore, you should set a goal to improve your nonverbal communication .

Skill #6. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Also, it includes being able to interpret and respond appropriately to the emotions of others.

On the job, this equates to thinking before reacting. Your response speaks volumes about you as an employee. For example, stepping back from a situation and choosing an appropriate response instead of acting off of emotions demonstrates self-regulation.

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Also, emotional intelligence at work requires empathy. When you're empathetic, you understand another person's situation. You put yourself in their shoes. This allows you to be more inclusive and welcoming.

By managing your own emotional response and being empathetic to others, you'll be able to put other business communication skills to use. For example, emotional intelligence aids in problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Skill #7. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving can be found in every job. You need effective problem solving skills to keep a situation from making you effective at work. For example, anyone that works in customer service uses problem-solving skills to resolve issues that customers have.

Problem-solving demonstrates your ability to deal with difficult situations. By having steps in place to address problems as they arise, you're able to effectively work under pressure. By keeping stress down, you're able to think critically about a solution.

Moreover, problem-solving allows you to utilize your other business communication skills like collaboration or active listening.

To solve a problem, you need to:

  • Identify the problem
  • Understand the cause
  • Identify alternative solutions
  • Choose the best solution
  • Implement the solution
  • Monitor the progress
  • Make adjustments if necessary

Face it. There's always going to be problems at work. While you can't prepare for every problem, you can implement steps for solving a problem. Improving your problem-solving skills ensures that you'll be able to find a solution. Therefore, you can remain productive.

Skill #8. Conflict Resolution

Any time two people communicate, the possibility for conflict exists. Conflict exists because differences exist. Everyone has an open opinion on how things should be done. When opinions clash, conflict results.

While most people want to avoid conflict, this only makes the situation worse. Conflict must be managed if you're going to get past it and reestablish open lines of communication. Thus, conflict resolution remains vital to being productive.

When trying to resolve conflicts at work, remember to:

  • Separate the people from the problem
  • Don't make it personal
  • Address the situation in a neutral setting
  • Create a list of solutions
  • Work toward consensus

Again, like the other critical business communication skills, to develop conflict resolution skills, you'll need emotional intelligence and active listening.

Skill #9. Networking

Networking involves developing mutually beneficial relationships. It's about building connections. Therefore, it involves meeting new people.

Now, I know that some people have the mentality that they're at work to do their job. They say things like “I'm not here to make friends.” More importantly, their business communication shows it.

While there is an underlying truth to this attitude, it's wrong in other ways. Yes, you're at work to get a job, but you need workplace connections to get that job done. Networking provides you with a safety net at work.

Here are some of the benefits of networking:

  • Improves your social well-being
  • Allows for the exchange of ideas
  • Provides you with resources
  • Boost your confidence

Instead of trying to solve a problem by yourself, call upon someone in your network for help. Just be sure to give as much as you get to keep the relationship balanced. Who knows, someone in your network might provide you with a career advancement opportunity some day.

Skill #10. Giving Feedback

Earlier, I said that you need to give feedback as part of the active listening process. To do that, you need to learn how to effectively give feedback . Often, this comes in the form of constructive criticism.

For it to be constructive, it needs to be positive and informative. You can't just tell someone they did something incorrectly. First, you need to appreciate the attempt. Then, show them how to do it correctly.

Remember, feedback fosters growth if given in an appropriate manner. To ensure that your feedback is welcome, ask permission before giving it. Then, state what you observed and explain the impact. Then, offer suggestions for improvement.

If you noticed, I said offer suggestions. Give the other person the option to reject the offer. You're offering feedback as a resource. Approach with the mindset of being helpful.

We all need help at times, but no one likes being treated poorly because of a mistake. By giving feedback in a positive way, you keep the relationship intact. Plus, you respect the dignity of the person you're offering feedback to.

Instead of fault-finding, it becomes a growth opportunity.

Skill #11. Receiving Constructive Criticism

Not only do you need to know how to give positive feedback, you also need to know how to deal with constructive criticism . Everybody gets judged on their job performance. It's a fact of life.

Again, you need to exercise emotional intelligence to keep from reacting negatively. While it may be tempting to lash out, it's not productive. In the end, it doesn't accomplish anything but affect your job performance.

Instead, approach constructive criticism with a growth mindset. Learn from the experience. Actively listen to what is being said and make the necessary adjustments.

This includes asking questions. Find out why you received the criticism. Also, ask for suggestions on how you can improve. Then, thank them for their advice.

If you do this, you'll not only grow from the experience, people will perceive you as someone open to suggestions. More importantly, you will be a person open to suggestions with a growth mindset.

Skill #12. Self- Management

Self-management means having a sense of responsibility for your actions and decisions. This allows you to achieve goals. Also, it demonstrates that you have initiative.

More importantly, it means that your boss doesn't need to constantly look over your shoulder. They can trust you to get the job done. This allows you to set your own pace for the work day. Who better to know your limitations than you?

Self-management involves:

  • Setting and keeping goals
  • Being organized
  • Self-motivation
  • Stress management
  • Accountability

This requires you to be honest with yourself about your limitations. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses. Finally, you have to be able to address the weaknesses.

Final Thoughts on Business Communication Skills

As you can see, business communications skills go beyond what you say . It also includes how you say it. This includes your emotions and motivation .

By developing these communication skills, you improve your work performance, promote a positive work environment , and positively impact those you communicate with. You benefit and so does everybody else. It's a win-win situation.

For more help with improving your communications skills, check out our 11 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Communications Skills . This is a skill that comes in handy throughout all walks of life.

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What Are Problem-Solving Skills? (Definition, Examples, And How To List On A Resume)

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Summary. Problem-solving skills include analysis, creativity, prioritization, organization, and troubleshooting. To solve a problem, you need to use a variety of skills based on the needs of the situation.

Most jobs essentially boil down to identifying and solving problems consistently and effectively. That’s why employers value problem-solving skills in job candidates for just about every role.

We’ll cover problem-solving methods, ways to improve your problem-solving skills, and examples of showcasing your problem-solving skills during your job search .

Key Takeaways:

If you can show off your problem-solving skills on your resume , in your cover letter , and during a job interview, you’ll be one step closer to landing a job.

Companies rely on employees who can handle unexpected challenges, identify persistent issues, and offer workable solutions in a positive way.

It is important to improve problem solving skill because this is a skill that can be cultivated and nurtured so you can become better at dealing with problems over time.

What are problem solving skills (definition, examples, and how to list on a resume)

Types of Problem-Solving Skills

How to improve your problem-solving skills, example answers to problem-solving interview questions, how to show off problem-solving skills on a resume, example resume and cover letter with problem-solving skills, more about problem-solving skills, problem solving skills faqs.

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Problem-solving skills are skills that help you identify and solve problems effectively and efficiently . Your ability to solve problems is one of the main ways that hiring managers and recruiters assess candidates, as those with excellent problem-solving skills are more likely to autonomously carry out their responsibilities.

A true problem solver can look at a situation, find the cause of the problem (or causes, because there are often many issues at play), and then come up with a reasonable solution that effectively fixes the problem or at least remedies most of it.

The ability to solve problems is considered a soft skill , meaning that it’s more of a personality trait than a skill you’ve learned at school, on the job, or through technical training.

That being said, your proficiency with various hard skills will have a direct bearing on your ability to solve problems. For example, it doesn’t matter if you’re a great problem-solver; if you have no experience with astrophysics, you probably won’t be hired as a space station technician .

Problem-solving is considered a skill on its own, but it’s supported by many other skills that can help you be a better problem solver. These skills fall into a few different categories of problem-solving skills.

Problem recognition and analysis. The first step is to recognize that there is a problem and discover what it is or what the root cause of it is.

You can’t begin to solve a problem unless you’re aware of it. Sometimes you’ll see the problem yourself and other times you’ll be told about the problem. Both methods of discovery are very important, but they can require some different skills. The following can be an important part of the process:

Active listening

Data analysis

Historical analysis


Create possible solutions. You know what the problem is, and you might even know the why of it, but then what? Your next step is the come up with some solutions.

Most of the time, the first solution you come up with won’t be the right one. Don’t fall victim to knee-jerk reactions; try some of the following methods to give you solution options.




Topic knowledge/understanding

Process flow

Evaluation of solution options. Now that you have a lot of solution options, it’s time to weed through them and start casting some aside. There might be some ridiculous ones, bad ones, and ones you know could never be implemented. Throw them away and focus on the potentially winning ideas.

This step is probably the one where a true, natural problem solver will shine. They intuitively can put together mental scenarios and try out solutions to see their plusses and minuses. If you’re still working on your skill set — try listing the pros and cons on a sheet of paper.


Evaluating and weighing

Solution implementation. This is your “take action” step. Once you’ve decided which way to go, it’s time to head down that path and see if you were right. This step takes a lot of people and management skills to make it work for you.







Project management

Evaluation of the solution. Was it a good solution? Did your plan work or did it fail miserably? Sometimes the evaluation step takes a lot of work and review to accurately determine effectiveness. The following skills might be essential for a thorough evaluation.

Customer service

Feedback responses


You now have a ton of skills in front of you. Some of them you have naturally and some — not so much. If you want to solve a problem, and you want to be known for doing that well and consistently, then it’s time to sharpen those skills.

Develop industry knowledge. Whether it’s broad-based industry knowledge, on-the-job training , or very specific knowledge about a small sector — knowing all that you can and feeling very confident in your knowledge goes a long way to learning how to solve problems.

Be a part of a solution. Step up and become involved in the problem-solving process. Don’t lead — but follow. Watch an expert solve the problem and, if you pay attention, you’ll learn how to solve a problem, too. Pay attention to the steps and the skills that a person uses.

Practice solving problems. Do some role-playing with a mentor , a professor , co-workers, other students — just start throwing problems out there and coming up with solutions and then detail how those solutions may play out.

Go a step further, find some real-world problems and create your solutions, then find out what they did to solve the problem in actuality.

Identify your weaknesses. If you could easily point out a few of your weaknesses in the list of skills above, then those are the areas you need to focus on improving. How you do it is incredibly varied, so find a method that works for you.

Solve some problems — for real. If the opportunity arises, step in and use your problem-solving skills. You’ll never really know how good (or bad) you are at it until you fail.

That’s right, failing will teach you so much more than succeeding will. You’ll learn how to go back and readdress the problem, find out where you went wrong, learn more from listening even better. Failure will be your best teacher ; it might not make you feel good, but it’ll make you a better problem-solver in the long run.

Once you’ve impressed a hiring manager with top-notch problem-solving skills on your resume and cover letter , you’ll need to continue selling yourself as a problem-solver in the job interview.

There are three main ways that employers can assess your problem-solving skills during an interview:

By asking questions that relate to your past experiences solving problems

Posing hypothetical problems for you to solve

By administering problem-solving tests and exercises

The third method varies wildly depending on what job you’re applying for, so we won’t attempt to cover all the possible problem-solving tests and exercises that may be a part of your application process.

Luckily, interview questions focused on problem-solving are pretty well-known, and most can be answered using the STAR method . STAR stands for situation, task, action, result, and it’s a great way to organize your answers to behavioral interview questions .

Let’s take a look at how to answer some common interview questions built to assess your problem-solving capabilities:

At my current job as an operations analyst at XYZ Inc., my boss set a quarterly goal to cut contractor spending by 25% while maintaining the same level of production and moving more processes in-house. It turned out that achieving this goal required hiring an additional 6 full-time employees, which got stalled due to the pandemic. I suggested that we widen our net and hire remote employees after our initial applicant pool had no solid candidates. I ran the analysis on overhead costs and found that if even 4 of the 6 employees were remote, we’d save 16% annually compared to the contractors’ rates. In the end, all 6 employees we hired were fully remote, and we cut costs by 26% while production rose by a modest amount.
I try to step back and gather research as my first step. For instance, I had a client who needed a graphic designer to work with Crello, which I had never seen before, let alone used. After getting the project details straight, I began meticulously studying the program the YouTube tutorials, and the quick course Crello provides. I also reached out to coworkers who had worked on projects for this same client in the past. Once I felt comfortable with the software, I started work immediately. It was a slower process because I had to be more methodical in my approach, but by putting in some extra hours, I turned in the project ahead of schedule. The client was thrilled with my work and was shocked to hear me joke afterward that it was my first time using Crello.
As a digital marketer , website traffic and conversion rates are my ultimate metrics. However, I also track less visible metrics that can illuminate the story behind the results. For instance, using Google Analytics, I found that 78% of our referral traffic was coming from one affiliate, but that these referrals were only accounting for 5% of our conversions. Another affiliate, who only accounted for about 10% of our referral traffic, was responsible for upwards of 30% of our conversions. I investigated further and found that the second, more effective affiliate was essentially qualifying our leads for us before sending them our way, which made it easier for us to close. I figured out exactly how they were sending us better customers, and reached out to the first, more prolific but less effective affiliate with my understanding of the results. They were able to change their pages that were referring us traffic, and our conversions from that source tripled in just a month. It showed me the importance of digging below the “big picture” metrics to see the mechanics of how revenue was really being generated through digital marketing.

You can bring up your problem-solving skills in your resume summary statement , in your work experience , and under your education section , if you’re a recent graduate. The key is to include items on your resume that speak direclty to your ability to solve problems and generate results.

If you can, quantify your problem-solving accomplishments on your your resume . Hiring managers and recruiters are always more impressed with results that include numbers because they provide much-needed context.

This sample resume for a Customer Service Representative will give you an idea of how you can work problem solving into your resume.

Michelle Beattle 111 Millennial Parkway Chicago, IL 60007 (555) 987-6543 [email protected] Professional Summary Qualified Customer Services Representative with 3 years in a high-pressure customer service environment. Professional, personable, and a true problem solver. Work History ABC Store — Customer Service Representative 01/2015 — 12/2017 Managed in-person and phone relations with customers coming in to pick up purchases, return purchased products, helped find and order items not on store shelves, and explained details and care of merchandise. Became a key player in the customer service department and was promoted to team lead. XYZ Store — Customer Service Representative/Night Manager 01/2018 — 03/2020, released due to Covid-19 layoffs Worked as the night manager of the customer service department and filled in daytime hours when needed. Streamlined a process of moving customers to the right department through an app to ease the burden on the phone lines and reduce customer wait time by 50%. Was working on additional wait time problems when the Covid-19 pandemic caused our stores to close permanently. Education Chicago Tech 2014-2016 Earned an Associate’s Degree in Principles of Customer Care Skills Strong customer service skills Excellent customer complaint resolution Stock record management Order fulfillment New product information Cash register skills and proficiency Leader in problem solving initiatives

You can see how the resume gives you a chance to point out your problem-solving skills and to show where you used them a few times. Your cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself and list a few things that make you stand out from the crowd.

Michelle Beattle 111 Millennial Parkway Chicago, IL 60007 (555) 987-6543 [email protected] Dear Mary McDonald, I am writing in response to your ad on Zippia for a Customer Service Representative . Thank you for taking the time to consider me for this position. Many people believe that a job in customer service is simply listening to people complain all day. I see the job as much more than that. It’s an opportunity to help people solve problems, make their experience with your company more enjoyable, and turn them into life-long advocates of your brand. Through my years of experience and my educational background at Chicago Tech, where I earned an Associate’s Degree in the Principles of Customer Care, I have learned that the customers are the lifeline of the business and without good customer service representatives, a business will falter. I see it as my mission to make each and every customer I come in contact with a fan. I have more than five years of experience in the Customer Services industry and had advanced my role at my last job to Night Manager. I am eager to again prove myself as a hard worker, a dedicated people person, and a problem solver that can be relied upon. I have built a professional reputation as an employee that respects all other employees and customers, as a manager who gets the job done and finds solutions when necessary, and a worker who dives in to learn all she can about the business. Most of my customers have been very satisfied with my resolution ideas and have returned to do business with us again. I believe my expertise would make me a great match for LMNO Store. I have enclosed my resume for your review, and I would appreciate having the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss my qualifications. Thank you again for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Michelle Beattle

You’ve no doubt noticed that many of the skills listed in the problem-solving process are repeated. This is because having these abilities or talents is so important to the entire course of getting a problem solved.

In fact, they’re worthy of a little more attention. Many of them are similar, so we’ll pull them together and discuss how they’re important and how they work together.

Communication, active listening, and customer service skills. No matter where you are in the process of problem-solving, you need to be able to show that you’re listening and engaged and really hearing what the problem is or what a solution may be.

Obviously, the other part of this is being able to communicate effectively so people understand what you’re saying without confusion. Rolled into this are customer service skills , which really are all about listening and responding appropriately — it’s the ultimate in interpersonal communications.

Analysis (data and historical), research, and topic knowledge/understanding. This is how you intellectually grasp the issue and approach it. This can come from studying the topic and the process or it can come from knowledge you’ve gained after years in the business. But the best solutions come from people who thoroughly understand the problem.

Creativity, brainstorming, troubleshooting, and flexibility. All of you creative thinkers will like this area because it’s when your brain is at its best.

Coming up with ideas, collaborating with others, leaping over hurdles, and then being able to change courses immediately, if need be, are all essential. If you’re not creative by nature, then having a team of diverse thinkers can help you in this area.

Dependability, believability, trustworthiness, and follow-through. Think about it, these are all traits a person needs to have to make change happen and to make you comfortable taking that next step with them. Someone who is shifty and shady and never follows through, well, you’re simply not going to do what they ask, are you?

Leadership, teambuilding, decision-making, and project management. These are the skills that someone who is in charge is brimming with. These are the leaders you enjoy working for because you know they’re doing what they can to keep everything in working order. These skills can be learned but they’re often innate.

Prioritizing, prediction, forecasting, evaluating and weighing, and process flow. If you love flow charts, data analysis, prediction modeling, and all of that part of the equation, then you might have some great problem-solving abilities.

These are all great skills because they can help you weed out bad ideas, see flaws, and save massive amounts of time in trial and error.

What is a good example of problem-solving skills?

Good examples of porblem-solving skills include research, analysis, creativity, communciation, and decision-making. Each of these skills build off one another to contribute to the problem solving process. Research and analysis allow you to identify a problem.

Creativity and analysis help you consider different solutions. Meanwhile, communication and decision-making are key to working with others to solve a problem on a large scale.

What are 3 key attributes of a good problem solver?

3 key attributes of a good problem solver are persistence, intellegince, and empathy. Persistence is crucial to remain motivated to work through challenges. Inellegince is needed to make smart, informed choices. Empathy is crucial to maintain positive relationships with others as well as yourself.

What can I say instead of problem-solving skills?

Instead of saying problem-solving skills, you can say the following:

Critical thinker



Using different words is helpful, especially when writing your resume and cover letter.

What is problem-solving in the workplace?

Problem-solving in the workplace is the ability to work through any sort of challenge, conflict, or unexpected situation and still achieve business goals. Though it varies by profession, roblem-solving in the workplace is very important for almost any job, because probelms are inevitable. You need to have the appropriate level of problem-solving skills if you want to succeed in your career, whatever it may be.

Department of Labor – Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

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Kristin Kizer is an award-winning writer, television and documentary producer, and content specialist who has worked on a wide variety of written, broadcast, and electronic publications. A former writer/producer for The Discovery Channel, she is now a freelance writer and delighted to be sharing her talents and time with the wonderful Zippia audience.

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What Is Problem Solving in Business?

Problem-solving in business is defined as implementing processes that reduce or remove obstacles that are preventing you or others from accomplishing operational and strategic business goals.

In business, a problem is a situation that creates a gap between the desired and actual outcomes. In addition, a true problem typically does not have an immediately obvious resolution.

Business problem-solving works best when it is approached through a consistent system in which individuals:

  • Identify and define the problem
  • Prioritize the problem based on size, potential impact, and urgency
  • Complete a root-cause analysis
  • Develop a variety of possible solutions
  • Evaluate possible solutions and decide which is most effective
  • Plan and implement the solution

Why Is Problem-Solving Important in Business?

Understanding the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace will help you develop as a leader. Problem-solving skills will help you resolve critical issues and conflicts that you come across. Problem-solving is a valued skill in the workplace because it allows you to:

  • Apply a standard problem-solving system to all challenges
  • Find the root causes of problems
  • Quickly deal with short-term business interruptions
  • Form plans to deal with long-term problems and improve the organization
  • See challenges as opportunities
  • Keep your cool during challenges

How Do You Solve Business Problems Effectively?

There are many different problem-solving strategies, but most can be broken into general steps. Here is a six-step method for business problem solving:

1) Identify the Details of the Problem: Gather enough information to accurately define the problem. This can include data on procedures being used, employee actions, relevant workplace rules, and so on. Write down the specific outcome that is needed, but don’t assume what the solution should be.

  • Use the Five Whys: When assessing a problem, a common strategy is to ask “why” five times. First, ask why the problem occurred. Then, take the answer and ask “why” again, and so on. The intention is to help you get down to the root cause of the problem so you can directly target that core issue with your solution.

2) Creatively Brainstorm Solutions:   State every solution you can think of. Write them down. Seek input from those who possess in-depth knowledge of or experience with the problem you’re trying to solve. These insights will provide you with valuable perspectives you can transform into tangible and impactful solutions.

3) Evaluate Solutions and Make a Decision:   Assess the feasibility of each solution. Is the deadline realistic? Are there readily available resources you can leverage to successfully implement the solution? What is the return on investment of each solution? If necessary, come up with alternative solutions or adjust the initial ones you brainstormed in step 2.

4) Make a Decision: Finally, make a firm decision on one solution. This final solution should clearly address the root cause of the problem.

  • Perform a SWOT Analysis: You can use a SWOT analysis to help you decide on the best solution. A SWOT analysis involves identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats linked to a specific decision. With this framework, your team can assess a decision from various angles, thereby gaining a holistic view of it.

5) Take Action:   Write up a detailed plan. This involves developing a comprehensive roadmap that outlines the steps required to implement your solution. The steps should specify milestones, deadlines, roles, and how to obtain the necessary approvals. To ensure accountability, your entire team should have access to this action plan. Each team member should be able to track and share their progress with the group.

6) Gather and Share Feedback: Problem-solving is not a “set it and forget it” process. It’s a dynamic journey that necessitates ongoing attention, deliberation, and refinement to achieve optimal results. Thus, periodic feedback is critical in validating whether the chosen solution creates the desired impact. It allows key stakeholders to check in and make any necessary changes.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills are specific procedures that can be used to complete one or more of the six general steps of problem-solving (discussed above). Here are five important examples:

Using Emotional Intelligence: You’ll solve problems more calmly when you learn to recognize your own emotional patterns and to empathize with and guide the emotions of others. Avoid knee-jerk responses and making assumptions.

Researching Problems: An effective solution requires an accurate description of the problem. Define simple problems using quick research methods such as asking, “What? Where? When? and How much?.” Difficult problems require more in-depth research, such as data exploration, surveys, and interviews.

Creative Brainstorming: When brainstorming with a group, encourage idea creation by listening attentively to everyone, and recognizing everyone’s unique contributions.

Logical Reasoning: Develop standard logical steps for analyzing possible solutions to problems. Study and apply ideas about logical fallacies, deductive reasoning, and other areas of analytical thought.

Decisiveness: Use an agreed-upon system for choosing a solution, which can include assigning pros and cons to solutions, identifying mandatory results, getting feedback about solutions, choosing the decision-maker(s), and finishing or repeating the process.

How Can You Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills?

Learning how to solve business problems takes time and effort. Though some people appear to have been born with superior problem-solving skills, great problem-solvers usually have taken the time to refine their abilities. You can develop high-level skills for solving problems too, through the following methods:

Ask and Listen: Don’t expect to solve every problem alone. Ask for advice, and listen to it carefully.

Practice Curiosity: Any time you’re involved in solving a problem, practice researching and defining the problem just a little longer than you would naturally.

Break Down Problems: Whenever possible, break large problems into their smallest units. Then, search for solutions to one unit at a time.

Don’t Label Yourself Negatively: Don’t allow a problem to mean something negative about you personally. Separate yourself from it. Look at it objectively and be part of the solution.

Enhance Your Problem-Solving Skills with CMOE

Problem-solving skills in business are not developed overnight. Developing then takes ongoing practice and the right guidance to get right. We encourage you to leverage CMOE’s Problem-Solving and Decision Making in the Workplace workshop to further develop your skills. We’ll help you identify new ways to solve problems methodically so you can create greater impact.

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Communication in IT: Why Soft Skills Matter

Three IT professionals using active listening and other soft skills at a presentation.

If you’re working toward a job writing code or managing cybersecurity for an organization, you’ve likely explored the technical skills you’ll need to succeed. But while tech skills are essential, there’s also a growing focus on the value of soft skills, such as communication, to break into the tech field .

“Not only are soft skills important , I think they’re more important than technical skills,” said Laurel Schneider , an adjunct information technology (IT) instructor at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). “I’ve hired and managed hundreds of people over my career. The technical skills may get you the interview, but it is the soft skills that get you the job.”

Schneider is not alone. Employers across many industries named soft skills such as dependability, collaboration, flexibility and problem-solving as the top skills they want in employees, according to a report from Monster .

These skills have become increasingly necessary in the field of IT, which has become a more integral part of strategic business planning and operations in recent years.

Are you considering a career in IT ? Explore some of the top soft skills IT professionals need to succeed in the workforce as well as discover what soft skills really are.

What Are Soft Skills in the IT World?

Soft skills are the non-technical human skills needed in every job across every industry. Communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, analysis, perseverance and creativity are all considered soft skills.

Technical skills like coding and programming  are critical to success in IT roles. But without strong soft skills, even highly skilled workers can struggle in today’s workforce, said Schneider.

“You can be the best coder in the world, but if you can’t get on (a) call or be in a meeting with a customer and work through an issue and not lose your temper or sound condescending, then you’re not going to do well on a team,” she said.

What is the Role of Communication in IT?

An infographic with the text soft skills used in IT include communication, collaboration, and problem-solving

While entry-level jobs may focus more on administrative tasks like managing passwords, supporting technological infrastructure or fixing computers, IT employees play a strategic role in business everywhere.

IT positions can be viewed as vital business partners and have been in higher organizational conversations. In order for IT roles to have those conversations, they need to have the soft skills to explain how technological solutions bring value to an organization.

Soft skills are critical to pursuing leadership roles in an IT department or company, said Daniel Hawkins , an adjunct IT instructor at SNHU. IT leaders often spend a lot more time collaborating with multiple departments and with other business leaders than sitting behind a computer.

“Moving away from the keyboard means that the IT professional starts having people work for them,” said Hawkins. “It also means working in teams, which is very collaborative. As the IT professional grows, that team collaboration evolves into leadership roles, which guides the teams to where they need to be.”

Learn how to become an IT manager .

What Soft Skills Are Needed in IT?

So, what soft skills do you need to work in today’s evolving IT environment? While communication in IT is one of the most commonly sought-after, the list of must-have soft skills is long.

Here are eight of the soft skills you'll use in an IT career.

1. Communication

When you work in IT, it’s not enough to simply understand and use your technical skills to solve problems or create opportunities for your company. You also need to be able to communicate those efforts to key stakeholders.

Depending on the project you’re working on or the role you play in the business, those stakeholders could be anyone from an end-user to a company leader.

You'll need to adapt your communication for a variety of different audiences. You can be an extremely skilled IT professional who does great work, but if you aren't able to communicate your ideas effectively to others, then your ideas may have diminished value.

2. Collaboration

When you work in IT, you may find yourself working in a team of other technology professionals. You might also have consistent contact with customers, other departments or even top executives.

Being able to work well with a variety of people from different professional experiences is key to success in this environment, said Schneider.

“It doesn’t matter where you work or if your job is customer-facing,” she said. “If you work in IT, you interface with everybody.”

3. Organization

IT professionals can end up managing many projects, tasks and problems all at once. Because of all of this multitasking, good organizational skills are valuable soft skills for IT workers.

Being organized can make you more efficient and productive at work and help you prioritize your daily tasks better, according to global tech association CompTIA .

4. Problem-solving

So much of the work done by IT departments is problem-solving. Whether you're integrating new code to fix a bug in software, creating a new cybersecurity program or responding to a hack, you'll have to utilize problem-solving skills to find innovative salutations to your issue.

These problem-solving skills are valuable and can tie in with other soft skills such as collaboration and communication, as you may have to work with others to receive their input, brainstorm and problem-solve together.

5. Analytical Thinking

Before you can successfully solve a problem, you need to analyze it from all angles and diagnose any technology issues. IT professionals with strong analytical skills can do this work more easily, even spotting potential problems before they arise.

"Being analytical gives you a major edge in IT, where you're expected to find logical solutions to problems frequently," according to CompTIA.

6. Creativity

IT may not be commonly considered an art, but solving IT problems often requires a lot of creativity, said Schneider. With a job in IT, you'll be challenged to come up with creative solutions, workarounds and fixes to keep business moving forward in the face of technical challenges.

“I can’t think of another field that uses creativity more,” Schneider said. “Without creativity, there is no innovation. And what is IT? It’s innovation.”

7. Perseverance

Just like creativity is required to solve IT problems, perseverance is another soft skill you’ll need to leverage often to be successful in this field. When you’re troubleshooting an IT issue, it’s not uncommon to have to rule out many potential causes before fixing a problem.

“The answer is almost never the first thing you tried,” said Schneider. “You have no choice but to persevere until you do have the answer.”

8. Resourcefulness

Resourcefulness is almost as important as communication in IT. You will need to be resourceful to solve new problems and learn new skills throughout your career.

IT professionals who know how to use available resources and seek out new ones are typically the most successful, according to CompTIA. Resourcefulness ensures that even if you don't know the answer to a problem, you do know how to find it.

How to Build Soft Skills in IT

Laurel Schneider with the text Laurel Schneider

Building soft skills starts during your IT degree program. While many IT degrees focus most of their coursework on building technical skills, some programs do put a lot of emphasis on soft skills development as well, said Schneider.

At SNHU, for example, an IT bachelor's degree program includes classes dedicated to communication in STEM professions, as well as courses related to project management, leadership and more.

Degree programs can also provide other natural opportunities for soft skills development. Assignments such as class discussions, group projects and peer review opportunities are all great ways to learn how to communicate complex ideas, work collaboratively and even disagree respectfully.

But while building soft skills during a degree program is important, Hawkins said, a lot of soft skill development happens on the job — and continues throughout your career.

“I believe that soft skills are actually something that you grow into as you work in the profession and learn more about yourself and how to communicate with others,” he said. “Soft skills get better with age and a lot of bumps along the way.”

How to Use Communication in IT to Get a Job

Because communication and other soft skills are in high demand in the IT field, they play an important role in helping you land your dream job.

Schneider said it starts by using soft skills to stand out during the application and interview process . Make sure that your resume is well-written  and that any written communication you have with company representatives is professional and clear. Then, prepare to discuss examples of your soft skills during the interview.

“The best way to demonstrate soft skills is to just be really prepared for the interview. That’s where you’re going to shine,” Schneider said. “Everybody in the waiting room has the technical skills. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be sitting there. What will distinguish you from someone else is the soft skills.”

And if a long, successful career in IT is your goal, it’s also important to find a job that makes you happy and fulfilled, said Hawkins. Doing so can also give your soft skills a boost.

“Soft skills come about and improve with practice and making mistakes along the way,” Hawkins said. “It is far easier to develop soft skills when it is something that you like and are motivated by.”

Discover more about SNHU's IT degree online : Find out what courses you'll take, skills you'll learn and how to request information about the program.

Danielle Gagnon is a freelance writer focused on higher education. Connect with her on LinkedIn .

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What Do You Learn in an M.B.A. Program?

April 18, 2024

In today’s competitive business environment, professionals are constantly seeking ways to advance their careers and stand out from others. The Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree is a popular educational choice because of its ability to shape well-rounded business leaders, offering a wealth of knowledge and experiences that are crucial for success across industries.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional hoping to climb to executive ranks or a recent graduate eager to make your mark in the business world, a high-quality M.B.A. can help transform your professional prospects. Keep reading as we explore the components of an M.B.A. curriculum, the essential skills you’ll acquire, and the profound impact they could have on your career trajectory.

What to expect from an M.B.A. curriculum

Earning an M.B.A. should be a multifaceted journey – one designed to equip you with the tools necessary to navigate complex business challenges and seize opportunities with confidence. From teaching you how to master core business concepts to how to hone your strategic skills, an M.B.A. program can serve as a cornerstone for both personal and professional development.

A typical M.B.A. curriculum should allow you to delve into an extensive range of subjects designed to provide a holistic understanding of business operations. Core courses should cover fundamental principles like management, finance, marketing, and leadership, laying the groundwork for specialized studies.

Through interactive lectures, case analyses, and collaborative projects, M.B.A. students typically engage in dynamic learning experiences that combine theoretical concepts with practical application. Many M.B.A. programs incorporate experiential learning, offering opportunities for internships and consulting projects. These hands-on experiences will enable you to gain valuable insights into real-world business challenges and develop essential skills in leadership, communication, and problem-solving.

8 competencies you can gain from an M.B.A. degree

By working through the M.B.A. curriculum and embracing experiential opportunities, you should emerge with a versatile skill set and a strategic mindset. This process will equip you to excel in diverse roles across various industries.

But what do you learn in an M.B.A. program, exactly? Consider the following examples of what you can expect:

1. Strategic problem-solving

In an M.B.A. program, strategic problem-solving takes center stage as students learn to dissect complex challenges, identify underlying issues, and formulate innovative solutions. Strategic problem-solving helps foster adaptability and resilience as a business professional, empowering graduates to navigate uncertainty and capitalize on opportunities in dynamic corporate environments.

Students exit their M.B.A. programs with the confidence and agility needed to drive sustainable growth in their organizations.

2. Collaborative leadership

Throughout the typical M.B.A. curriculum, students learn to harness the collective intelligence of teams. Through group projects and leadership seminars, they’ll gain important interpersonal skills and communication strategies essential for guiding diverse teams toward shared goals.

Equipped with this competency, M.B.A. grads emerge as effective leaders capable of driving organizational success through synergy and collective action.

3. In-depth data analysis

M.B.A. students delve into the realm of data analysis, mastering techniques needed to extract actionable insights from complex datasets. Through coursework in business statistics, data mining, and quantitative methods, students acquire the skills needed to interpret data effectively and make data-driven business decisions.

This skill helps business professionals leverage data-driven approaches to problem-solving and strategic decision-making. This enables them to confidently navigate the intricacies of today’s data-rich business environment.

4. Efficient project management

In M.B.A. programs, students become adept at the principles and techniques that are essential for overseeing initiatives from conception to completion. Through coursework and hands-on projects, students learn to define project scope, allocate resources effectively, and manage timelines and budgets.

By implementing efficient project management practices, business professionals can drive project success, enhance organizational efficiency, and deliver value to stakeholders, positioning themselves as effective leaders in project-driven environments.

5. Methodical market research

As an M.B.A. student, you’ll explore the complexities of market research, honing the skills necessary to gather, analyze, and interpret data to inform strategic business decisions. Through coursework and practical exercises, students learn to conduct market segmentation, assess competitive landscapes nationally and internationally, and identify consumer preferences and trends.

Proficiency in market research techniques like surveys, focus groups, and data analytics equips business professionals to gather valuable insights and validate hypotheses with precision.

6. Precise financial forecasting

M.B.A. students can expect to study the details of precise financial forecasting, mastering techniques to predict future financial performance. Through coursework in financial modeling, quantitative analysis, and risk management, students learn to analyze historical financial data, identify key trends, and develop accurate forecasts for revenue, expenses, and cash flow.

This skill empowers business leaders to assess the financial health of organizations, anticipate market fluctuations, and allocate resources effectively.

7. Comprehensive global business perspective

When working through the rigorous curriculum of a typical M.B.A. program, students develop a comprehensive global business perspective. They’ll gain insights into the interconnectedness of economies, cultures, and markets around the world. Exposure to international trade dynamics, cross-cultural communication strategies, and global market trends equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct business in diverse geopolitical contexts.

By understanding the implications of globalization on business strategy, market expansion, and supply chain management, business professionals can identify opportunities for international expansion, mitigate risks associated with global operations, and lead cross-functional teams with cultural sensitivity and awareness.

8. Advanced networking

In addition to the range of impressive skills listed above, M.B.A. students also have the opportunity to practice the art of effective networking. They’ll learn to recognize the importance of building and nurturing professional relationships to foster career growth and business success. Proficiency in networking strategies like informational interviews, networking pitches, and online networking platforms empowers business professionals to establish meaningful connections and leverage them for opportunities.

Some M.B.A. programs, like the one at Utica University, allow students to begin this practice during their courses. By building group work into the curriculum, they’ll build their networking skills while collaborating with other likeminded professionals from a wide range of industries. Not only does this offer valuable perspective, but it could also unlock doors to career advancement and entrepreneurial endeavors down the road.

Level up your business skills with an M.B.A.

A high-quality M.B.A. program offers a comprehensive educational journey that will provide you with an array of in-demand skills that are critical for success in the modern business landscape. Each piece of the M.B.A. curriculum is strategically crafted to guide students like you to become adaptable and effective business leaders.

If you’re eager to unlock your full professional potential, a Master of Business Administration degree can help you get there. Utica University offers a range of specialized programs that can be tailored to your career goals or lifestyle needs. Explore our M.B.A. opportunities below:

  • M.B.A. in Management (on-campus)
  • M.B.A. in Management (online)
  • M.B.A. in Professional Accounting

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  • 9 Soft Skills Employers Want...

9 Soft Skills Employers Want in 2024

10 min read · Updated on December 19, 2023

Ken Chase

Don't forget about these soft skills that can help you to succeed in 2023

You're in the middle of your job search and you feel confident that you're the right candidate for the job. And why are you so sure? That's easy - you have all the professional skills the job requires, from the training to the industry knowledge and technical skills.

News flash - so does your competition! The question is: do you have the soft skills employers want from their job candidates?

The playing field has changed now, thanks to the pandemic and its impact on the labor market. The last few years have created new challenges that forced companies to do things differently and, consequently, they changed what recruiters really care about . 

“Undeniably, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the hiring process for both job seekers and recruiters alike, which our data confirms by uncovering what's newly important in one's candidacy,” said Amanda Augustine, TopResume's career expert.

“Our findings reveal that job seekers may be taking themselves out of the running even before - or right after - the virtual interview, because they're ignoring the key factors to which recruiters are suddenly paying attention.”

It's not as mysterious as you might think. What really helps job candidates to stand out from the rest are the soft skills employers want and need. The new normal includes not only more remote work, but also an increased emphasis on productivity and collaboration. That means that key soft skills in the workplace are more important than ever, with some rising to the top of recruiters' wish lists in 2023.

What are soft skills?

Think of soft skills for work as your personal skills - things you do that make you a great employee outside of the technical skills that are needed for the job. They may come naturally to you, or perhaps you've added some classes to your list to augment these abilities. If you haven't, consider taking online classes and other certification courses to develop strong soft skills in the workplace. Including soft skills on a resume is absolutely essential if you want employers to quickly see that you have the talents they're looking for.

These are the top soft skills employers want to see :

1. Creative problem solving and innovation

The last few years have presented a plethora of new challenges for companies. The last thing an employer or hiring manager wants is an employee who sees a challenging situation or new task and says, “Wow, I don't know what to do here.” Instead, they want to know that you can think logically and creatively to develop solutions to the problems or obstacles that arise from day to day.

They also hope you'll help to come up with new ideas while addressing existing problems. And the more creative, the better; that kind of thinking leads to innovation and improvements within the company.

On your resume, be sure to highlight your problem solving skills and list situations where you had to use your creativity in the face of adversity by coming up with innovative solutions to the problems you encountered.

At your interview, express your enthusiasm for tackling challenges. Every job has hurdles and employers want to hire people who aren't afraid of tackling those challenges. Make sure that your interviewer knows you're one of those people.

2. Communication skills 

This is a broad category; it can include everything from how you converse with a client and colleagues to how well you get your point across in emails. The ability to communicate with clients and team members is essential. And, now that most communication is done through emails, chats, video, or phone conference calls, strong communication skills are more critical than ever. 

Taking a class on effective communication skills is well worth your time and money. It's one of the most crucial soft skills in any job, in any industry. If you already think that it's one of your best attributes, find a way to demonstrate that on your resume and in your interview.

3. Time management

Moving to a partial or complete work-from-home environment was a big leap of faith for many employers and hiring managers. Would their teams be legitimately productive away from their office? Without the natural structure that a day at the office provides, time management became a soft skill that quickly rose to the top of many recruiters' priority lists.

Time management means that you know how to organize your schedule to get your projects done on time and with efficiency. How well can you focus on your work and manage your time to stay productive, without a manager looking over your shoulder?

Your work calendar is your best friend when it comes to time management. Set daily and weekly goals for what you'd like to accomplish and don't be afraid to block off time on your calendar to zero in on that work. If you're preparing for a job interview, see if you can learn what project management tools the company uses and familiarize yourself with those products. If you can demonstrate familiarity with the tools they use, you'll have a leg up on the competition. 

4. A growth mindset 

When it comes to ensuring longevity in your career , you need to be able to grow and adapt to changes within your industry and the job market as a whole. With the  mechanization of jobs and industries, having a growth mindset is essential. 

So, what is a growth mindset? Professionals with a growth mindset are motivated to reach higher levels of achievement by continuously learning new skills in order to move with a changing market. Essentially, it's being adaptable and willing to go above and beyond the soft and hard skills you already have. 

Showcase your growth mindset on your resume by highlighting examples of how you showed initiative by learning a new skill that improved your performance or helped you to keep pace with industry changes.  

5. Emotional intelligence

What does it mean to have high emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your emotions and the emotions of others. This means that you're able to think empathetically about the people around you and the interpersonal relationships that develop in the workplace.

This is another of those soft skills employers want to see, and it's taken on new meaning for 2023. As we emerge from the shadow of the recent pandemic, many people continue to struggle with their place in the workforce and the world. Having the ability to read the emotions of your co-workers and respond with compassion is essential. 

In fact, one survey by CareerBuilder reported that 71% of employers value emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ, while 75% are more likely to promote an employee with higher EQ (emotional quotient) over someone with higher IQ. 

The best way to show your emotional intelligence? During your interview .

6. Collaboration

Collaborating with your co-workers isn't as easy as it seems. There are always those who believe that they know how to do the job and don't trust others to do their part - and that can create tension in the office and hurt overall efficiency. 

Learning to trust others, work together, and give and accept ideas is a difficult skill to master - but, if you can, you'll be well ahead of the competition.

Show off your best collaboration soft skills in your resume by describing your ability to work with other team members. You should highlight it during your interview as well. Show enthusiasm for accepting colleagues' ideas and maximizing your team's overall efficiency by using each person's individual strengths.

7. Adaptability

Change is always a major part of the modern-day workplace. The lightning-fast advancement of technology has forced industries to evolve or perish in recent years. Those changes are sure to continue in the years to come, which is why adaptability is now one of the top skills employers are looking for in job candidates.

Think about all of the changes we've seen in recent years. Many offices went from 100% on-site work to partial or completely remote work during the pandemic. Video conferencing became an everyday occurrence, while working and collaborating online is now considered routine. All of these things have required workers to adapt to new methods, new technology, and new ways of thinking. 

Think about all the ways you've had to adapt in the past and be prepared to showcase how well you can go with the flow during your next interview. 

8. Active listening

Everyone loves a good listener. It shouldn't be hard to do, but for many people it's a struggle - especially in a remote environment. Active listening is more than just listening intently; the active listener shows that they're engaged in the conversation by saying little things like, “Okay,” or “I understand,” and nodding. It also means asking questions, making eye contact, and withholding judgment. 

It can be all too easy to become disengaged from your sixth video conference of the day or that morning check-in call before you've had your coffee. If you're uncertain what it really means to be an active listener, do a little research and practice it at home with your family or friends (they'll appreciate it, too). Then, during your interview, let your active listening skills shine as you engage with your interviewer. 

9. Leadership

While creativity, communication skills, a growth mindset, emotional intelligence, and collaboration are all relevant skills that can make you a great employee, leadership skills will elevate you even further. Most employers and hiring managers are always looking for someone who is capable of growing beyond that role.

Leadership skills are really a combination of all the other soft skills. When you put them together, you have a person who can not only work well with the team but also take the reins and make the rest of the team better.

If you've been in charge of big projects in the past, bring that out in your resume and mention it in job interviews. Show that you're not someone who is just looking to punch in and punch out, but an applicant who is ready to conquer this job and grow into a future leader within the company; that makes you an attractive investment for them.

Showcase the soft skills employers want to see

Think of your soft skills as accessories to your hard, job-related skills. They alone cannot qualify you for a job, but when paired with solid credentials they can make you a much more attractive candidate. As you review your soft skills, keep in mind how the last few years have changed the playing field and highlight those that will help you shine in the “new normal” work environment. 

From cashier to construction worker to CEO, soft skills are universally needed in today's workforce. Learn to cultivate yours and display them for employers to see - and you'll keep yourself ahead of the pack.

Are the soft skills employers want to see highlighted on your resume? Check today with a free resume review !  

This article was originally written by Tyler Omoth and updated by Ken Chase in 2023.

Recommended reading:

What Are Soft Skills? And How to Showcase Them on Your Resume

Resources for In-Demand Job Skills You Can Learn Online

The Top 10 Job Skills Employers Want

Related Articles:

8 Tips to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

There's Nothing Wrong With Having a Gap Between Jobs

7 Signs Your Resume is Making You Look Old

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Top 25 Business Analyst Skills for 2024

The importance of a Business Analyst (BA) is growing in the fast-paced business world. By 2024 , it will be required of Business Analysts to have a broad range of abilities that combine technical knowledge with business understanding. Business analysts serve as a bridge between technology teams and business stakeholders, assisting companies in determining their needs and developing solutions. To succeed in this field, BAs must have a diverse set of skills.


Essential Skills Required for Business Analyst

Here are the top 25 skills that every aspiring or experienced business analyst should have by 2024.

Core Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills

Analytical thinking and problem-solving.

  • Description: The ability to dissect complex problems, identify patterns, and root causes, and develop strategic solutions.
  • Importance: Vital for diagnosing business problems and formulating effective solutions.
  • Development Tips: Engage in analytical exercises, take courses in logic and problem-solving, and practice with real-world case studies.

Critical Thinking

  • Description: Ability to evaluate arguments, identify logical connections, and critically assess business issues.
  • Importance: Ensures that solutions are well-thought-out and feasible.
  • Development Tips: Engage in activities that require critical thinking, such as case studies and strategic games.
  • Description: Proficiency in analyzing data to extract meaningful insights and make informed decisions.
  • Importance: Supports evidence-based decision-making and identifies trends.
  • Development Tips: Gain skills in data analysis tools (Excel, SQL, Python) and learn statistical methods.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

  • Description: Techniques to evaluate the financial implications of projects and solutions.
  • Importance: Ensures that solutions are economically viable.
  • Development Tips: Learn financial analysis methods and practice with real-world scenarios.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Communication skills.

  • Description: Proficiency in verbal, written, and non-verbal communication.
  • Importance: Crucial for articulating requirements, presenting findings, and collaborating with stakeholders.
  • Development Tips: Improve through public speaking, writing practice, and active listening exercises.

Stakeholder Management

  • Description: Skills to identify, manage, and engage stakeholders effectively.
  • Importance: Ensures stakeholder needs are understood and met, and fosters collaboration.
  • Development Tips: Develop interpersonal skills, understand stakeholder analysis techniques, and practice conflict resolution.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Description: Ability to build and maintain positive working relationships.
  • Importance: Fosters collaboration and effective communication.
  • Development Tips: Develop through teamwork and active listening practices.

Presentation Skills

  • Description: Ability to present information clearly and effectively to various audiences.
  • Importance: Ensures that findings and recommendations are well-understood.
  • Development Tips: Practice public speaking, use visual aids, and seek feedback to improve.

Technical and Documentation Skills

Technical proficiency.

  • Description: Understanding of various technical tools, software, and IT systems.
  • Importance: Facilitates better communication with IT teams and aids in the implementation of solutions.
  • Development Tips: Learn basic programming, and databases, and familiarize yourself with software development processes.

Knowledge of Business Analysis Tools

  • Description: Familiarity with tools like JIRA, Trello, Microsoft Visio, and modelling software.
  • Importance: Enhances efficiency in managing projects and documenting requirements.
  • Development Tips: Take courses or tutorials on these tools and use them in projects.


  • Description: Ability to create detailed business and technical documents, including requirements specifications, process diagrams, and user manuals.
  • Importance: Provides a clear record of requirements, processes, and solutions.
  • Development Tips: Practice writing clear and concise documentation, and familiarize yourself with documentation standards.

Project and Process Management Skills

Project management.

  • Description: Knowledge of project management principles and practices, including planning, execution, and monitoring.
  • Importance: Ensures that projects are completed on time and within budget.
  • Development Tips: Get certified (e.g., PMP, PRINCE2) and gain experience in managing projects.

Business Process Modeling

  • Description: Techniques like BPMN to visualize and analyze business processes.
  • Importance: Helps in understanding, analyzing, and improving business processes.
  • Development Tips: Learn modeling techniques and tools, and practice by creating process models.

Requirements Elicitation

  • Description: Techniques for effectively gathering requirements from stakeholders through interviews, workshops, and surveys.
  • Importance: Ensures that the final solution meets business needs.
  • Development Tips: Learn various elicitation techniques and practice in real or simulated environments.

Change Management

  • Description: Managing and facilitating organizational change effectively.
  • Importance: Ensures successful adoption of new processes and technologies.
  • Development Tips: Study change management theories and participate in change initiatives.

Risk Management

  • Description: Ability to identify, assess, and manage risks in projects and business processes.
  • Importance: Minimizes potential project pitfalls and ensures smooth execution.
  • Development Tips: Learn risk management frameworks and practice identifying and mitigating risks.

Domain and Industry-Specific Knowledge

Domain knowledge.

  • Description: Understanding of the specific industry or domain in which you are working.
  • Importance: Provides context and relevance to the analysis and solutions.
  • Development Tips: Stay updated with industry trends, regulations, and best practices through continuous learning.

Agile Methodologies

  • Description: Familiarity with Agile principles, Scrum, and other Agile frameworks.
  • Importance: Enhances adaptability and responsiveness in dynamic environments.
  • Development Tips: Get certified (e.g., Scrum Master) and participate in Agile projects.

Customer Service Orientation

  • Description: Focus on meeting the needs of customers and stakeholders.
  • Importance: Builds strong relationships and ensures solutions are user-friendly.
  • Development Tips: Improve through customer service training and by seeking feedback.

Strategic and Adaptive Skills

Strategic thinking.

  • Description: Ability to think long-term and align business analysis with organizational goals.
  • Importance: Ensures that solutions contribute to strategic objectives.
  • Development Tips: Engage in strategic planning exercises and understand the organization’s vision and goals.


  • Description: Ability to adjust to changing circumstances and new information.
  • Importance: Essential for thriving in dynamic environments.
  • Development Tips: Embrace continuous learning and be open to feedback.

Detail Orientation

  • Description: Meticulous attention to detail in analyzing requirements and solutions.
  • Importance: Prevents errors and ensures quality.
  • Development Tips: Develop through practice and peer reviews.


  • Description: Ability to handle multiple tasks and projects simultaneously.
  • Importance: Essential for managing workload and meeting deadlines.
  • Development Tips: Improve time management and organizational skills.

Research Skills

  • Description: Proficiency in researching to gather relevant information.
  • Importance: Supports informed decision-making and solution development.
  • Development Tips: Improve through practice and by learning research methodologies.

Negotiation Skills

  • Description: Ability to negotiate requirements, priorities, and solutions with stakeholders.
  • Importance: Helps in reaching agreements that satisfy all parties involved.
  • Development Tips: Take negotiation workshops and practice through role-playing scenarios.

How to Develop These Skills

Formal education, work experience, and ongoing learning are all necessary for the development of these talents. To improve their technical abilities, BAs might benefit from online workshops, certificates, and courses. Through practice and feedback in real-world situations, soft skills like problem-solving and communication may be refined. The talents listed above can be developed in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas to consider :

  • Formal Education: Take into account enrolling in classes related to data analysis, and project management, or consider working for certification as a business analyst.
  • On-the-Job Training: For new BAs, several firms provide training programs. Look for opportunities to work on difficult projects with knowledgeable colleagues.
  • Industry Events and Conferences: You may learn about new trends, network with other experts, and grow by going to industry events and conferences.
  • Self-Learning: There is an abundance of knowledge available in libraries and online. Use tutorials, books, and articles to your advantage to keep learning new things.
  • Ongoing Education: Maintain current knowledge of industry trends, instruments, and optimal methodologies via classes, seminars, and accreditations.
  • Practice: Use case studies, simulations, and practical projects to put your academic knowledge to use in real-world situations.
  • Get Input: To pinpoint your areas of weakness and hone your abilities, get input from stakeholders, mentors, and colleagues.
  • Networking: Building a strong professional network both inside and outside the company is a great way to obtain knowledge and expertise from others.
  • Mentorship: Seek assistance from mentors or seasoned BAs who may offer insightful counsel and encouragement throughout your professional path.

Finally, in order to succeed as a business analyst in 2024 and beyond, you must master these 25 talents. Professional excellence and value creation for businesses may be attained by BAs who consistently hone their talents and adjust to the changing business environment. Nonetheless, obtaining these abilities is only the beginning of the road to brilliance. The growth-promoting factors that push BAs toward mastery include intentional practice, ongoing learning, and feedback-seeking. Through the development of business connections and guidance through the maze of career advancement, networking and mentoring offer a lifeline.

Top 25 Business Analyst Skills for 2024 – FAQs

Are technical skills important for a business analyst.

While technical skills can be beneficial, the core focus of a BA lies in understanding business needs and facilitating solutions.

What are some of the career paths for Business Analysts?

Business Analysts can progress into various roles, including Business Systems Analyst, Business Process Analyst, Product Owner, and Business Consultant.

What are some certifications beneficial for Business Analysts?

There are several certifications available for Business Analysts, such as the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

Can I become a BA without a background in IT?

Yes, many BAs come from diverse backgrounds. However, a foundational understanding of IT and business processes is beneficial.

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Problem-Solving Olympiad Puts Power Skills to the Test

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The inaugural NXTLVL Problem-Solving Olympiad brought students together online for a day of spirited competition, pushing them to their true potential. Middle school problem-solvers from four continents, including three of the top ten virtual schools ranked by World Schools, navigated complex challenges in teams. These challenges tested timeless Power Skills like creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, emotional intelligence, and resilience.

NXTLVL is a pioneering edtech program that helps students develop Power Skills, preparing them for a rapidly evolving world driven by AI advancements and scientific innovations. Our game-based learning approach combines team challenges with expert coaching, equipping students with the skills needed to take on anything.

Many progressive schools, like those attending the Olympiad, are integrating competency-based education into their curricula, focusing on Power Skills to prepare their students for school, work and life.

Gabriel Hernandez, Director of Technology at our champion school Alverno Heights Academy believes “participation in such interactive activities not only enriches students’ learning experiences but also helps them develop essential skills that are beneficial for their personal and academic growth.”

The new Problem-Solving Olympiad offers an extraordinary learning environment for tomorrow’s problem-solvers to stretch their Power Skills by collaborating under pressure.

Schools from around the world took on the May Olympiad. Photo provided by NXTLVL.

Power Skill award winners

To emphasize the importance of Power Skills, we rewarded exceptional examples.

The Emotional Intelligence Award went to Minerva’s Virtual Academy, a globally recognized online school based in the UK, for “anticipating the needs and strategies of allies and opponents to navigate conflicts.”

Williamsburg Academy of Colorado picked up the Resilience Award for “perseverance in pushing through setbacks without losing momentum.”

Laurel Springs School earned the Critical Thinking Award for “demonstrating exceptional analytical thinking, decoding complex problems with logical and strategically sound solutions.”

The Communication and Creativity Awards went to the Prisma Online School for “mastering divergent thinking, consistently generating and synthesizing innovative ideas, while communicating them clearly.”

The Power Skills Awards. Photo provided by NXTLVL.

The Champions

We witnessed the peak of escalating intensity in the Championship Level as four teams battled it out for the main prize. Fourth place went to Prisma Online School, third place to Hill Top Preparatory School, and second place to Minerva’s Virtual Academy.

Our overall champions were a team from Alverno Heights Academy, an independent Catholic school from California. They epitomized teamwork, securing the Power Skill Award for collaboration. With a perfect balance of leadership and emotional intelligence, they leveraged each other’s diverse skills and perspectives. Their dynamism and synchronicity were evident from start to finish. Worthy winners indeed.

Hernandez added, “This Olympiad provides a unique platform for students to engage in communication and critical thinking skills, which are essential in today’s educational landscape. While traditional sports often focus on teamwork and collaboration, this competition allows educators to reach a broader spectrum of students and foster these important skills collectively.”

One of the Alverno Heights Academy students emphasized the importance of “teamwork, communication, and lots of planning before each round,” which was key to their success.

The 6 Power Skills trophies sit inside the champions’ trophy. Photo provided by NXTLVL.

The ultimate contest of wits

The Olympiad was a breathtaking experience. The speed at which all teams adapted to the surmounting challenges reminded us of what students are capable of when given the right platform. In just five hours, students transformed from being curious but uncertain to astute problem-solving teams.

Initially, they dove in without knowing the rules, requiring them to decode the game, develop hypotheses, and fine-tune their tactics. As the game evolved, they had to rework their strategies and adapt on the fly. This journey through failure, setbacks, and upended strategies led them to a finish line where the sweetness of victory was palpable.

The next level

Building on the success of the May event, we’re excited to announce the November Olympiad, which promises to be even more spectacular, expanding over multiple days to welcome more schools.

With early bird access, it’s free for the first four teams until July 1st.

Click here to register and give your students a head start on the future.

We extend a heartfelt thank you to the Elite Academic Academy for their invaluable support in hosting the event and the other schools that made it possible.

Alverno Heights Academy Boston College High School Colégio Bento Benedini Hill Top Preparatory School Laurel Springs School Leadership Academy of Utah Mesa Public Schools Minerva’s Virtual Academy Prisma Online School Repton Abu Dhabi Repton Al Barsha Repton Dubai Williamsburg Academy Williamsburg Academy of Colorado

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10 essential soft skills every software developer needs to master

I magine, if you will, the realm of software engineering as a grand orchestral performance. The stage is set, the spotlight illuminates, and the conductor raises the baton. The symphony begins, and as the musicians pour their heart and soul into their instruments, an extraordinary spectacle unfolds. Yet, amid the crescendos of coding, the harmonies of frameworks, and the rhythms of deadlines, a subtle melody often goes unheard.

It's the symphony of soft skills, the intricate notes that dance between the lines of code, the subtle harmonies that resonate amid collaboration. Just as a maestro imbues a symphony with emotion and depth, software engineers too require a set of soft skills to elevate their craft from mere coding to a virtuoso performance.

In the current landscape, a discussion about these skills holds even greater significance – they are the orchestrators of success that transcend the boundaries of code, differentiating exceptional software engineers from the rest.

Discover the 10 essential soft skills that every software developer should possess, as shared by Saurabh Saxena, the Chief Operating Officer of Scaler and InterviewBit.


Communication is not a one-way tool. Both parties involved are equally important. Sometimes a candidate with good technical skills might need help to explain the approach. Software engineers must be able to articulate complex technical concepts clearly to both technical and non-technical stakeholders.

Candidates with the best verbal communication skills cannot convert their thoughts, ideas, and designs into proper demonstrable code. Listening is another essential communication skill; software engineers should be good listeners.

The ones who are good listeners have an edge over the others in terms of understanding the business requirements and needs of the user. Listening carefully, communicating well, and confidently speaking are key metrics to improving your communication. If they work on improving these skills, they can have better growth in their career.


The tech industry evolves rapidly with new methodologies, frameworks, and languages. Software developers and engineers must adapt to these changes for a lifelong learning approach. Being a software developer, you need to be open-minded and adaptive.

In some situations, both might mean different things, but they may rotate in cycles going together, and in some, they might mean the same thing. Open-minded people are also more receptive to others' feedback and listen to, and appreciate the value of feedback given by others.

As you climb up the ladder of software engineering levels, this skill set will be vital for your professional career.


Software engineering is a challenging profession. It's a very complex feat. A typical software engineering cycle starts with the product manager gathering the product requirements, and software engineers reviewing and going through multiple iterations.

Then they go on to high-level and low-level design, getting them checked by their peers, jumping onto the coding plan, coming up with a testing plan, and finally creating the test suite. It involves so many processes and can be pretty tiring.

'Patience' will be your longtime friend in the mission of software engineering. Once you are patient and accept everything around you, you will have an unmatchable sharp mental ability.


As a software engineer, you will be involved in different levels of management. As a fresher, you will begin with time management. You will be involved in so many subtasks at a time, creating confusion. Then, as you move up the ladder, you will realise that project management is essential.

Scoping projects, setting deadlines, and ensuring you put in all the efforts to meet these deadlines are critical. Another important aspect is to not say ''yes'' to everything. If you do, you are bound to disappoint someone. So sometimes, saying no is a beneficial and healthy skill set to possess. Ultimately, prioritizing tasks, setting realistic goals and time management will increase productivity.


Software engineering is a team sport; collaborative teamwork is essential for success. You will be collaborating with many people throughout this project completion journey. You will work with product managers and colleagues to get your design and code review, testing engineers, privacy and security consultants, etc.

So, for you to grow as a software engineer, your team will also need to grow with you. Embrace the collaborative mindset, engage in brainstorming sessions, and be receptive to feedback.


To get into top tech companies or any company, being a good problem solver with critical thinking skills is paramount. Solutions are always meaningful, but the approach towards the problem is even more critical.

As a software engineer, you will be dealing with issues of different levels of complexity. How you break the problem down into simpler subproblems and how you deal with ambiguity will define you as a software engineer. So, having solid problem-solving skills is paramount for any software engineer.


If you are accountable for your mistakes and accept them, you can grow as a human being and as a software engineer. In our day-to-day lives, we make a lot of errors. It's essential to take ownership of the tasks that you are doing and your mistakes.

Being humble in one way or another is in confluence with being accountable. Software engineers with a lot of experience are the most humble. They listen the most, and that's the reason why they stay as the leaders of their group. Accountability builds trust among your peers and makes you a better professional.


As a software engineer, you will build products for your customers. But a customer sometimes does not use your product the way you intended. For example, suppose there are 10 cases of use for your product. In that case, the customer will come up with an innovative '11th' use case and ultimately defy the purpose of your software development.

It's imperative to understand what emotion is driving your user to behave in a particular way so that you can build better products for your customers. Ultimately, your victory is when the customer is happy. Apart from the customer's perspective, empathy is another vital tool from the point of view of teamwork and collaboration.

More often, being a software engineer, you will work in a team with people from diverse backgrounds. So make sure you respect their belief systems and accept whatever technical options and variety they bring to the table.


A crucial part of people's skills is being approachable. Software engineers maintain their growth by being approachable and helpful. Quite often, the project's success depends on the software engineers who are working on the project. The reason is it correlates with the right personality.

Being approachable doesn't necessarily mean you have to say yes to everyone. As mentioned earlier, if you say yes to everyone, you will likely disappoint many people. A moderate combination of yes and no and being helpful and approachable will help you grow as a software engineer.


Our software industry is growing at a rapid pace. If you're missing out on self-learning new technologies and languages, you will not progress as a software engineer. Curiosity is a soft skill that will be your companion on the self-learning journey.

You have to go beyond and beyond to find the root cause of the problem, try to find some supporting ways to make the codebase better than the current situation, solve the problem and help the software engineers around you.

The habit of curiosity and being explorative can help software engineers become technically dependable teammates. Be more curious about the problem you are working on, and explore the codebase as to why the customer needs a particular feature and what technical solutions may be more beneficial than the current state-of-the-art technology.


Looking ahead, the future of software engineering hinges on mastering not only the intricacies of code but also the art of soft skills. As technology evolves, the need for adept communicators, adaptable problem solvers, and collaborative team players will intensify.

Embracing these skills is not just a choice; it is a strategic decision to excel in an industry where success is defined by the synergy of technical prowess and human ingenuity. So, the need of the hour for software engineers today is to fine-tune the skillset and navigate the ever-changing landscape with the harmonious blend of coding finesse and soft skill virtuosity.

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10 essential soft skills every software developer needs to master


  1. Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders

    4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need. 1. Problem Framing. One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you're trying to solve.

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