Good Problem-Solving Skills
Because architects are responsible for the overall supervision of their projects, they must constantly cope with any problems that arise during the course of construction. Possessing effective problem-solving skills is therefore essential. Although this is not a skill that is taught in architecture schools, there are ways to develop or improve problem-solving techniques on your own.
The key to handling problems effectively, according to the management training resource firm MindTools.com, is to analyze them in a systematic, comprehensive way:
- Define the Problem – What is happening? What are the specific symptoms?
- Collect Data – How long has the problem existed? What is the impact of the problem? It is often helpful to ask these questions of everyone who is familiar with the situation, as they can often give you a better understanding of all the issues involved.
- Identify Causal Factors – What led to the problem? What conditions allow the problem to occur? Ways to help identify causal factors include breaking the problem down into small, detailed parts in order to understand the larger picture, and using cause-and-effect diagrams to chart where the trouble might have started.
- Identify the Root Cause – What is the real reason the problem occurred? A quick way to get to the root cause of a problem is to start at the end result and work backwards by continually asking, “Why?” until you arrive at the cause and an intuitive answer to the problem. For example:
“Why is the client unhappy with us?”
“Because construction is behind schedule.”
“Why is construction behind schedule?”
“Because we haven’t received the right materials from our supplier yet.”
“Why hasn’t the supplier delivered what we need?”
“Because the contractors forgot to order an important material. We need to revise and improve their ordering procedure.”
- Recommend and Implement Solutions – Decide what you can do to prevent the problem from happening again, how the solution will be implemented, and who will be responsible for it.
Also remember that good problem-solvers always expect a crisis and prepare for it by having a plan of action set up ahead of time and, if possible, a back-up plan.
Last Updated: 04/30/2013