Problem solving: Can we fix it? Yes we can!
Accountants solve problems. From CCAB syllabuses, to job ads, to client expectations, there's no denying that problem solving is a core professional skill. Just think about the problems you solve every day: the thorny tax issue, the holes in the accounts, the judgment call. And yes, other professionals solve problems too. But I'll wager that the sheer depth, breadth and variety that accountants encounter takes some beating. Forget Jim: the accountant'll fix it!
'Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make strong.' (Norman Vincent Peale)
And what a transferable skill! Think about it. Problem solving per se is a highly marketable competency. Wikipedia extols: 'considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills'.
Let's un-pack this problem solving talent; what does it actually mean in practice?
- To be: systematic, organized, methodical, intellectually dexterous, adaptable, resourceful, objective.
- To do: planning, analysis, practical knowledge, application, prioritization, conflict resolution, assessment, implementation, resolution, surmount obstacles, evaluate, make decisions, use judgment.
Forget problem solving 'per se', just a few of these attributes sprinkled through your C.V, will go a long, long way!
Sharpening the saw
So let's take this inherent strength and make it even stronger. Here's how:
- Leverage your preferred operating style. Are you a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic thinker? Take the test on the website: www.theaccountantscoach.com. Once you've identified your preference, exploit it, seeking new modes working (graphical, audio, applied tools). Merely raising conscious awareness of your style will capitalize on your natural resources, further unlock your potential and achieve synergy.
- Systemise your approach. Figure out your problem-solving processes, pin them down and avoid getting stuck in a circle of solving the same problem over and over again. Not only does this save time, but it boosts performance in unfamiliar or ambiguous situations. And reduces stress.
- Engage the right brain. Add a soupcon of creativity. Beware of pernicious 'left brain accountant' labelling. Mental skills are actually evenly distributed throughout the cerebral cortex and we the potential to develop all our skills. 'Left or Right brain dominant' just means you have not yet developed your full skill set. You are sitting on untapped resources.
- Work your human resources - smarter. Your team, your (life) partner, your kids, your non-accountant mates. Team work means - even more - synergy! New perspectives are invaluable - that's what coaching is all about. And just moving thoughts to words can unlock conundrums.
So there you have it. Celebrate and promote your precious problem solving assets. Then hone them to perfection.
And the final words of inspiration from Duke Ellington: "a problem is a chance for you to do your best".