Why is Complex Problem Solving so Important?
Complex Problem Solving Defined
- Identify the problem. This is not always as easy as it sounds. The problem itself may be buried beneath a number of adverse effects showing up in a system.
- Identify the causes. These could be the task itself, or systems control issues, equipment, people, even personality clashes, or any combination of these factors.
- Look for solutions. Here is where human judgment comes in. You will evaluate possible outcomes and seek the one that produces the most desirable solution. Here you may wind up settling for the least bad outcome you can find.
- Make a decision and put it in place. Pick an answer and go for it.
- Evaluate feedback. Is your solution working? Or not? Use feedback to adjust your solution to achieve maximum results.
Here is the Opportunity
Just What is Critical Thinking?
- The ability to analyze the way you think.
- A self-directed way of thinking using high standards of excellence.
- A systematic, methodical approach to problem-solving.
- The ability to think independently.
- The ability to separate rational arguments from emotional ones.
Why is Critical Thinking Important to Me?
- Identify a bad or false argument.
- Build and present good arguments.
- Think better and more clearly.
- Develop the ability to see things in new and different ways.
- Question the status quo.
Here is the challenge. The human brain does not think logically. It makes most of its decisions on emotion and/or preconceived ideas. Having made a decision, people then go back and justify it with logic. What’s worse is once a person has made a decision they will defend it to the death, no matter how wrong it turns out to be.
How Can I Learn to be a Better Thinker?
The first blog post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ) I listed the top ten skills necessary if you are to triumph in the ongoing upheaval in the worldwide job market. Today, I want to discuss the #3 skill, Creativity.
Why is Creativity so Important?
There is one simple reason why creativity as a skill is so much in demand. Robots and software technology can’t do it. Here is one area where human beings can beat the bots. Every time.
Freelancers need this skill to solve problems with new programs and procedures. Clients and different departments implementing new programs and services will require new solutions to problems that arise.
I have a favorite saying I think sums up the need for creativity in the business world. It comes from General George Patton, the famous tank corps commander in World War II. “The best battle plan in the world isn’t worth a damn after the first shot is fired.”
General Dwight Eisenhower also weighed in on this subject when he said, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.”
Freelancers know this. When it all goes to hell, you’re going to have to get creative and think your way out of it.
How Can You Define Creativity?
I admit this is hard. Creativity is one of those things that everyone knows when they see it, but find it difficult to define.
Let’s take a shot at it. Creativity is:
- The ability to think outside the box.
- Coming up with something that’s never been done before.
- Applying old methods in new ways.
- Perceiving the world in new ways.
There are more. Here is a link taking you to a Copyblogger Post with 21 different definitions of creativity ( http://bit.ly/2jEEKTH ). (Hint… the list starts about halfway through the post).
Can I learn to be more creative?
How many times have you heard it? “I’m just not a creative person.”
Wanna bet? Actually, we all start out being very creative, and then we unlearn it. In 1968, a man by the name of George Land devised a test to measure creativity ( http://bit.ly/2ykJSzE ). He then gave the test to 1600 children, age 3 to 5 years, enrolled in a Head Start Program. The results were amazing. The 5-year-old kids scored 98% on the creativity test. He retested the same kids 15 years later. Guess where they scored? 12%. Adults given the same test scored 2%.
This means our society is teaching us to unlearn creativity.
So it’s really not an issue of learning to be more creative. It’s remembering how to be as creative as we once were.
The common misconception is that creativity belongs to artists, writers, musicians, and maybe a few computer geeks. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all creative. Like all skills, it is one where proficiency is gained by practice.
Remember the old joke? A kid carrying a violin case goes up to a cop in New York City and asks, “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?” The cop looks at the kid and says, “Practice, practice, practice.”
The best part is improving creativity is fun. A lot of fun.
I’m Sold. Where Can I go to Learn?
Online of course. Google “Learn to be Creative.” You’ll get more than a million results.
Now as for books? One of the best I have ever read on this subject is “The Artists Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” by Julia Cameron. I read this book when it first came out over 25 years ago when I wanted to begin developing my writing skills. I have reread at least 3 times since then. Don’t be put off by the title. This book is considered the seminal book on creativity. It’s for people in every walk of life seeking to enhance their creativity skills. There is also a great workbook that goes along with it I would recommend as well.
I have included links below if you would like to get these outstanding books. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)
In the first blog post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 critical skills you will need to succeed in the upheaval taking shape now in the worldwide job market. Today I want to discuss Skill #4, People Management.
Why is People Management so Important?
People management has always been an important skill to possess. In the coming chaos in the job market, it will become even more vital. As robots and software technology continue to replace people in the work force, human judgement becomes more and more critical.
As a Freelancer, you will be involved in complex projects. These projects will employ teams of highly skilled and intelligent people. These teams may consist of company employees and/or other Freelancers. And…the one thing you will all be required to bring to the table is human judgment. It’s the one thing robots and software cannot do.
What Does Good People Management Consist of?
If there was one word I could use to sum up good people management it’s engagement.
Did you know according to Gallup research, 51% of the American workforce is not engaged? This means they are indifferent to their job or don’t like their work. ( http://bit.ly/2wVIZik ). So, the first task of any manager is to get his team engaged.
How do I Get People Engaged?
The hypothetical situation here is you are Freelancer managing a team of Freelancers completing a project for a company. Here is how I would do it.
- Be clear about the purpose of the project. What is special about it? Why is it important? Freelancers tend to pick their jobs. If you can show how working on this project would enhance their career or professional development you’ll be way ahead.
- Set expectations. Let them know exactly how they fit into the team and what they are expected to do. Show them how what they do is critical to the project’s success. Let them know you are counting on them.
- Let them know you have their best interests at heart. Freelancers want to know they are in a situation where they can do what they do best.
- Ask for their opinions. And…really listen. Reward innovation. Value feedback. Give plenty of feedback to them. Remember if you want to get people engaged, you have to be engaged.
- Give lots of praise. But, be genuine. Too much praise can come off sounding phony
- Figure out ways to make it fun.
Freelancers build teams. Let your team members know if they do a good job, you’ll be sure to ask them back on the next gig you get. People love working for a well-functioning team.
Freelancers need to know they are getting paid well. Remember companies can save up to 30% of labor costs (payroll taxes, fringe benefits, etc.) by hiring Freelancers. What kind of revenue will this completed project generate for the company? Set your prices accordingly. The better the pay, the higher the talent you’ll be able to attract.
Where can I go to learn about this?
Online of course. Google “People Management Training” and take your pick. Training resources range from free to thousands of dollars depending on what you choose.
Then there are books. Always my favorite starting point. One of the best is Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
Another excellent book is “Bringing out the Best in People” by Aubrey Daniels.
See links below to order these fine books. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon affiliate.)
The main point here is to start now. Assess your leadership skills and figure out what you need to improve. The People Management skill is ranked #4 for a reason. If you need improvement in this area, the sooner you start, the better.
In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 skills critical to your success as a Freelancer in the growing upheaval of the worldwide job market. Today I’m going to discuss Skill #5 Coordinating With Others.
Why is Coordinating With Others So Important?
First and foremost, it is the #5 critical skill employers will be looking for in Freelancers as technology continues to eliminate jobs in the coming years. When you think about it, coordinating with others is one of those things that appears to be self-evident. Yet, when I began to research this as a single subject for this blog, I found…almost nothing.
This is weird, I thought. I must be doing something wrong. So I went back and changed the search criteria in every way I could think of and came up with…almost nothing. No books. No courses. No forums. Nothing.
Yet this skill is listed in almost all the lists of critical skills needed for the future. Who am I to argue with the World Economic Forum?
Then it dawned on me. This skill is not so much a stand-alone skill. It really is one of the qualities of great leadership. And, the Freelancers of the future need to be great leaders. They need to bring together companies, clients, departments, and other freelancers to make projects succeed.
At the same time, leaders need to be followers as well. If you’re not the lead, you need to be willing to subordinate your interests to the team and the project. For, it is the project’s success that is paramount.
What’s Involved in Coordinating With Others?
When you coordinate with others you will need to:
- Be organized yourself.
- Organize and describe the roles of others.
- Create directives so everyone understands their role in the project.
- Be an active listener.
- Be able to deal with emotions. Both yours and others.
- Juggle multiple balls.
- Deal with obstacles.
- Build teams.
Do all of these sound familiar? They should. They are all elements of great leadership. The good news is you can learn to be a great leader. Like most skills, it takes time and practice. There’s an old saying that great leaders are born, not made. The real truth is some leaders are born, but most are made.
OK! Where Can I Learn to be a Great Leader?
Lots of places. For starters, if you google “Where can I learn about leadership” you’ll get about 700,000 results. One intriguing site is Learn to be a Leader ( http://bit.ly/2x8AD8q ). Here you can find a long list of sub-categories to search through.
Then there’s always books. (You just knew I’d have a book, right?) One excellent book I found was Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. This is a fascinating book that uses a fictional story to focus on a basic, but very important, tenet of leadership that is rarely discussed. Master this one skill, and you’re a long way down the road to great leadership. There is a link below if you’d like to order this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)
In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 skills critical to your success as a Freelancer in the growing upheaval of the worldwide job market. Today I’m going to discuss Emotional Intelligence, #6 in the series.
Emotional Intelligence is Important Because?
It is one of the essentials of leadership (there’s that word again). Yes, as a future Freelancer, you are expected to be a good leader. Part of your job will be the bringing together of disparate groups who need to get along if your projects are going to succeed. In order to do this, you need to develop your Emotional Intelligence skills.
Emotional Intelligence (also referred to as EI in this post) is linked to your own success. Studies show 90% of top performers are high in EI.
Emotional Intelligence also leads to personal happiness and achievement.
4 Core Skills Comprise EI
Self Awareness is defined as the ability to perceive our own emotions and your reactions in given situations.
What gets you excited? What angers or frustrates you? How and when do you show your emotions? How does showing your emotions affect others? In what ways?
Knowing how you react emotionally in any given situation and staying aware of those emotions as they happen is the key here.
Here is the best definition of self-management I have found. It’s the first two lines of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If”. “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”
Self-management is the ability to stay calm, cool, and collected. Not allowing others to derail, distract, or disrupt your leadership in any given situation.
Social awareness is the ability to pick up on how other people feel and why they feel that way.
It’s also developing a high sense of empathy which is the ability to understand the other person’s situation. Add to this, the ability to meet the needs of clients and customers.
Relationship management is bringing it all together. It’s the ability to listen to all sides, using your awareness of your own and others emotions to reach agreement. It’s applying creativity to a collaborative decision so that decisions are made from the bottom up. It’s also using clear communication to resolve conflict and build lasting bonds.
Relationships develop over time by frequency and depth of contact with others. The idea here is to build networks of individuals you can use to further your Freelancing practice, and better serve your clients.
Where Can I Learn About Improving My EI?
If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know the first place I always start is with books. Start with Amazon, your local bookstore, or your local library. One excellent book on the subject I found is Ian Tuhovsky’s Emotional Intelligence. It’s an excellent guide to understanding and improving your EI. There are also some nice freebies at the end. I’ve included a link below if you’d like to order this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)
Check online for courses. If you Google “Courses in Emotional Intelligence”, you’ll find everything from University Courses leading to leadership certification to seminars to free online training.
When Should I Start?
Today! The upheaval in the world job market is already underway. Software technology and robots are replacing people at an ever increasing pace. Forbes estimates 50% of the labor force will be Freelancers by 2020 ( http://bit.ly/2tfLsjq ). This is good news for you, but only if you act now so you are ready to take advantage of the shift.
One more thing. If you’d like to read the full text of Rudyard Kipling’s Poem IF, click here ( http://bit.ly/2irfa3X ). Ladies I apologize in advance for the poem’s tilt toward the male gender. Kipling wrote it in 1895 when social norms were far different
In my original blog in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm), I said there were 10 skills critical to your future success in the coming turbulent job market. Today I want to discuss skill # 7, judgment and decision-making.
The Importance of Judgment & Decision-Making Skills
Futurist Thomas Frey estimates 2 Billion (that’s Billion with a capital B) jobs will be lost by 2030 worldwide. (http://bit.ly/2w4whhN) Those jobs will be lost to robots and software technology. There will also be lots of new jobs created. But…the new jobs will require a skill robots and software don’t have. Human judgment and making the decisions arising out of those judgments.
Your job as a future Freelancer will be to make those judgments and decisions for your clients. And…this will be one of the most sought after skills.
You could be called upon to decide:
- Whether a program or service will even work for your client.
- If the program or service is desirable, how will it be integrated?
- What departments or divisions will fill new roles?
- What existing jobs may be eliminated or repurposed?
- Who will be responsible for the maintenance and updating of the new programs?
As you can see, the possibilities are almost endless.
Please define Judgment and Decision-Making
Judgment is the ability to evaluate a situation as objectively as possible. Typically this will involve:
- Defining the challenge or opportunity
- Coming up with a list of possible solutions.
- Listing pros and cons of each solution.
Decision-Making is: Choosing a solution and implementing it.
Sounds simple, right?
Ah, if it were only that easy.
There are a few other elements involved, such as:
- Taking risks
- Having the courage to put a decision into play
- Admitting you’re wrong if it doesn’t work.
- Gathering feedback to try again.
Often This Whole Process is Defined as Leadership
“Wait a minute!” I hear you say. “If I’m a Freelancer, why do I have to be a leader?”
Any one who has ever been in the military will tell you; leaders exist at every level. From the smallest unit of 3 people, to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, someone is always in charge.
As a Freelancer, you will be responsible for integrating and coordinating many things. That means you will be leading. You should be confident in your ability to do research, implement it, and manage conflict amongst others. You need to be a keen observer, able to spot difficulties early before they grow into a crisis. This requires an action orientation and an assumption of risk.
The distressing part of this whole thing is that research shows most people make decisions based on emotion. Then they try to justify that decision with logic.
It will be up to you to show your clients a better way.
Where Can I go to Learn About Judgment?
Lots of places. As always, there are books. One of the best I have found is by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis titled Judgment, How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls. This book deals mainly with senior leadership in large organizations. It is still a good tutorial for developing the skills needed for good judgment. Plus, there’s a nifty handbook included at the end. There is a link below if you would like to buy this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)
There are also lots of courses available. Just Google “Decision-Making Courses” and a ton of choices will come up.
Finally, there’s plain old everyday practice. We all make decisions. Lots of them, every single day. Some turn out well, others not so much. Analyze the good ones. What did you do right? Learn from the bad ones. What could you have done better or differently?
The important thing is to start now. The better you are, the more prepared you will be when that Freelancing opportunity appears.
In my original post in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 critical skills you will need to prepare yourself to succeed in the coming upheaval in the job market. Today I want to discuss number 8 on the list, Service Orientation.
Why is Service Orientation so Important?
Service Orientation may be the most difficult of the skills to describe. Yet in many ways, it is the most important of the 10 skills even though it’s number 8 on the list. As a Freelancer, you don’t just want clients that are satisfied; you want clients that are loyal. What’s the difference? Loyal customers call you first. Before they talk to anyone else.
What is Service Orientation?
Service orientation is a customer first approach. It’s a mindset. This isn’t a skill to be practiced; it’s a lifestyle to be lived.
Think about Nordstrom’s. They became famous because their gift wrapping department would wrap gifts purchased at other stores. Or, Disney, whose “cast members” sole function is to make sure their “guests” enjoy themselves.
I spent 20 years training Mortgage Loan Officers how to build a business based on personal referrals from Realtors, builders, and previous clients. Service orientation was the most important quality determining their success.
Here’s what it takes to develop a loyal client.
First on the list is a high degree of empathy. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. You need good listening skills. Find out not only what the client wants, but why they want it. Have patience. Be sure you hear them out.
Be interested in your clients as people. Find out as much as you can about them. Why do they love their industry? How did they come to be involved in your project? Where do they go from here? My experience is most people love to talk about themselves, especially if they are passionate about their work.
Practice exceptional follow through and follow up. As a Freelancer, you may be acting as a go-between for two or more clients. Make sure all are not just satisfied, but pleased with the outcome. Make follow up calls a week, a month, a quarter, and even a year after completion. It’s a good way to get feedback on your project in order to improve your performance the next time. It’s also a great opportunity to ask for more business.
My father was a commercial builder. He made constant follow up calls to clients with finished jobs. If something was wrong with one of his projects, he didn’t care how long ago the job had been completed. He’d fix it. No charge. Guess why his clients called him back again and again?
People like to do business with you when you can make it easy for them. Here’s a hint. Don’t make it easy, make it effortless. When I was in mortgage banking, our Loan Officers would get a referral from a Realtor. They’d interview the applicants, and if they were qualified, the deal closed in 10 business days. Do you think Realtors liked sending us business?
Where Can I Learn About Service Orientation?
That’s actually a hard question to answer. When you search online you will find a lot of sites that are IT oriented.
The best sources appear to be books. Jeffrey Gitomer has a great book titled Customer Satisfaction is Worthless. Customer Loyalty is Priceless. In it, Jeffrey has a lot of simple, direct strategies to build customer loyalty. I have included a link below if you’d like to purchase this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate).
Then there’s practice. You can start now. We are all involved in situations every day where we can strive to make sure those we come in contact with are pleased with the results. As I said before, this isn’t a skill it’s a lifestyle. Start today to put the other person first. You’ll be stunned at the results.
In the first blog in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm), I discussed the upheaval in the world job market. Many jobs will be lost, but many will be gained. Projections are that by 2020, a mere three years from now, 50% of the labor force will consist of Freelancers. Today in this countdown series I am discussing the number 9 skill Freelancers will need to fill these yet to be created jobs. Negotiation!
Exactly What is Negotiation?
When we think of negotiating, what comes to mind? Haggling over a used car or a piece of real estate? Beating the other guy down so you get a fantastic deal?
The popular view of negotiating is that it is a win-lose deal. If you win, the other guy loses and vice-versa
The truth is good negotiating is about achieving a win-win for everyone involved. We all engage in negotiations almost every day whether we realize it or not. Anytime people seek to agree on a task or a concept or a subject there is negotiating involved. Negotiation is simply the process of achieving agreement on issues that leaves all parties satisfied with the results.
Why is Negotiating so Important?
As a Freelancer, good negotiation skills are crucial to your success. The first place you will use this skill is negotiating your fees with your new clients. Freelancers are typically very well paid, and you want to be able to negotiate top dollar for your services.
Then think about having to negotiate between departments inside your corporate client to achieve the goals you were hired to produce.
How about negotiating to bring your client together with other companies to install a new process or system.
Where Can I Learn to Negotiate?
Lots of places. And…it’s not as hard as you think. All it takes, in the beginning, is some thought and preplanning. You will find as you practice the process it becomes almost second nature to you.
There are lots of books. One I just read is “Never Split the Difference.” (See the link below). This is an excellent book written by Chris Voss, an FBI profiler. He starts every chapter with a real life negotiating experience from his long FBI career. This is a very readable book, with basic negotiating techniques clearly explained. This book is only one of many on the subject.
There are many online courses offered by colleges and universities. A quick search will find them for you.
Google is also an excellent source. Google “Learning Negotiation” and you get more than 6 million results to choose from.
When Should I Start?
Now! Even if you think you are a good negotiator, you can always learn more. This job upheaval is already well under way and will only continue to accelerate. Freelancing is the job of the future. Start now to acquire these 10 skills needed to fill jobs not yet invented. If you do, you will be ready to launch your career as a well-paid Freelancer.
Here is the link to Never Split the Difference. Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.