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Solution Based Problem Solving

Updated: Aug 27

Warm Questions:

  1. Why do you think problem-solving skills are important in our daily lives? Can you give an example of a situation where effective problem-solving made a difference?

  2. How do you approach challenges or problems in your personal or academic life? Do you tend to rely on structured methods or creative thinking? Why?

  3. Imagine you're part of a team working on a project that requires finding an innovative solution. How would you collaborate with team members who have different problem-solving styles than yours?


1. Contemporary (adjective): Belonging to the present time; modern.

  • Meaning: Relating to the current period or era.

  • Example: The contemporary world is characterized by rapid technological advancements.

2. Intrigue (noun): Arouse curiosity or interest.

  • Meaning: Fascination or interest in something mysterious or captivating.

  • Example: The mystery of the ancient artifact's origin intrigued the archaeologists.

3. Individualistic (adjective): Characterized by individuality; unique to each person.

  • Meaning: Relating to a person's distinct qualities and preferences.

  • Example: The artist's individualistic style set them apart from others in the art community.

4. Diverse (adjective): Varied; showing a great deal of variety.

  • Meaning: Having a wide range of differences or variations.

  • Example: The team consisted of diverse members with different skills and backgrounds.

5. Cognitive (adjective): Related to mental processes, such as thinking, reasoning, and learning.

  • Meaning: Relating to the brain's activities involved in understanding and processing information.

  • Example: Cognitive development in children involves acquiring problem-solving skills.

6. Amalgamate (verb): Combine or unite to form a whole.

  • Meaning: To merge or blend different elements into a single entity.

  • Example: The company decided to amalgamate its two departments to improve efficiency.

7. Inclination (noun): A person's natural tendency or preference.

  • Meaning: A leaning or preference towards a particular action or behavior.

  • Example: Her inclination towards artistic pursuits was evident from a young age.

8. Harmoniously (adverb): In a way that is pleasingly consistent or compatible.

  • Meaning: In a manner that fits well together and creates a sense of balance.

  • Example: The colors of the painting blended harmoniously, creating a visually appealing composition.

9. Paradigm (noun): A typical example or pattern of something; a model.

  • Meaning: An example or model that represents a particular way of thinking or doing things.

  • Example: The new technology introduced a paradigm shift in the way we communicate.

10. Rigor (noun): Strictness or thoroughness in a process or requirement.

  • Meaning: The quality of being meticulous and precise.

  • Example: The scientific research was conducted with great rigor to ensure accurate results.

11. Hybrid (noun/adjective): A combination of two different elements; something formed by blending different components.

  • Meaning: A mix or combination of different elements or ideas.

  • Example: The new car model is a hybrid that combines electric and gasoline engines.

12. Versatile (adjective): Capable of adapting to various tasks or roles.

  • Meaning: Having the ability to be used or applied in different situations.

  • Example: She is a versatile musician, skilled in playing multiple instruments.

13. Spectrum (noun): A broad range of varied but related ideas or objects.

  • Meaning: A wide variety or continuum of different elements.

  • Example: The colors of the sunset covered a spectrum from warm reds to cool blues.

14. Discipline (noun): A field of study or practice; a branch of knowledge.

  • Meaning: An area of expertise or a specific subject that requires dedicated learning.

  • Example: Psychology is a discipline that focuses on understanding human behavior.

15. Parameters (noun): Limits or boundaries that define the scope of something.

  • Meaning: Guidelines or conditions that set the boundaries for a particular situation.

  • Example: The research project had specific parameters that determined the scope of the study.

16. Pragamatic (adjective): Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

  • Meaning: a pragmatic approach to politics

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Navigating Solutions: Unveiling the Power of Problem-Solving Types According to Harvard Business Review

In the rapidly evolving landscape of our contemporary world, the art of problem-solving has emerged as an essential skill that transcends the boundaries of both our professional and personal lives. The capacity to adeptly navigate challenges and arrive at well-informed decisions holds the potential to significantly influence our outcomes. What adds intrigue to this process is the individualistic approach that each of us brings to problem-solving. With distinct strengths, preferences, and cognitive styles shaping our strategies, our methods of addressing issues can vary dramatically.

A landmark study conducted by the esteemed Harvard Business Review has shed light on the intricate tapestry of diversity woven into problem-solving methodologies. This groundbreaking research categorizes problem solvers into four distinct types: analyticals, creatives, practicals, and theoretics. These categories not only provide insights into how we perceive and manage challenges but also offer a glimpse into the unique strengths and limitations that define our problem-solving endeavors. By identifying the type that resonates most with our nature, we unveil a deeper understanding of our problem-solving inclinations. This newfound knowledge equips us to refine our strategies, enhance decision-making processes, and cultivate more productive collaborations.

In this exploration, we embark on a journey to delve into the four distinct problem-solving types. We will uncover their defining attributes, individual strengths, and the singular perspectives they bring to the intricate world of decision-making and solution crafting. While the category of "solution-based problem solving" isn't explicitly delineated among these types, it harmoniously aligns with all four, acting as an integrated approach that amalgamates the strengths of each. Proficient problem solvers often draw from a fusion of these traits, adjusting their tactics based on the specific nature of the challenge and the desired outcomes.

So, let's embark on this captivating voyage of understanding, wherein we unravel the essence of problem solvers and their distinctive archetypes.

The Four Facets of Problem Solvers Revealed by Harvard Business Review

Solving problems stands as a fundamental skill in both our personal and professional domains. Each of us possesses our own unique manner of approaching challenges, and an illuminating study by the Harvard Business Review has classified problem-solving into four distinct types: analyticals, creatives, practicals, and theoretics. Each category carries its own set of strengths and weaknesses, significantly influencing our problem-solving techniques. Unraveling the type that resonates with us not only offers invaluable insights into our approach to problem-solving but also facilitates effective collaboration with others.

  1. Analyticals: These problem solvers are recognized for their systematic and rational thinking. They tackle challenges by breaking them down into smaller components, meticulously analyzing data and information, and deriving conclusions founded on evidence. Analyticals thrive in environments that demand precision and meticulous consideration. While they excel at recognizing patterns and making well-founded decisions, their penchant for detail might sometimes lead to overthinking or a slowdown in the decision-making process.

  2. Creatives: Creatives are the innovators who embrace unconventional solutions and think beyond the norm. They bring imagination and fresh perspectives to the table, excelling in brainstorming sessions and generating novel ideas. Their readiness to take risks often results in groundbreaking solutions, although they may encounter difficulties in implementing practical plans or considering all necessary details.

  3. Practicals: Practical problem solvers prioritize efficient and effective solutions. They possess a strong pragmatism and lean toward actionable, results-oriented resolutions. Their strengths lie in resource organization, timeline management, and finding straightforward answers to intricate problems. However, their emphasis on efficiency could potentially cause them to overlook creative possibilities or critical nuances.

  4. Theoretics: Theoretics are deep thinkers who revel in exploring the underlying principles and theories beneath a problem's surface. They seek to comprehend the root causes and broader context of challenges before proposing solutions. Proficient in strategic planning and long-term thinking, theoretics offer valuable insights that contribute to comprehensive problem-solving. Nevertheless, their affinity for complexity occasionally leads to overly intricate solutions or challenges in practical implementation.

Comprehending which problem-solving type aligns with one's inclinations yields profound self-awareness. This self-awareness enables individuals to harness their strengths in approaching challenges with greater efficacy. Moreover, recognizing the problem-solving types of team members enhances collaboration and decision-making. Through amalgamating the strengths of diverse types, teams can foster a holistic and well-rounded approach to problem-solving.

Remember, no single problem-solving type reigns supreme; each type contributes unique skills to the collective. The key lies in embracing the diversity of problem-solving approaches and nurturing an environment where different types can collaborate harmoniously, leveraging their distinct strengths.

The Harvard Business Review's classification of problem solvers as analyticals, creatives, practicals, and theoretics illumines the multifaceted ways we engage with challenges. Identifying one's problem-solving type empowers individuals to maximize their strengths and collaborate effectively, resulting in comprehensive and successful solutions.

Interplay of Solution-Based Problem Solving with the Four Types

Here's how solution-based problem solving interlaces with the four distinct problem-solving categories:

Analyticals: Analytical problem solvers thrive in solution-based problem solving due to their methodical and logical thinking. They systematically analyze the issue, gather pertinent data, and evaluate potential solutions in a structured manner. Their attention to detail and evidence-driven approach culminate in well-informed decisions.

Creatives: Creatives inject innovation and fresh perspectives into solution-based problem solving. Their unconventional and imaginative ideas often stand out from the conventional options. They are adept at thinking outside the box, leading to breakthrough solutions that challenge the status quo.

Practicals: Practical problem solvers excel in solution-based problem solving as they prioritize efficiency and tangible results. They focus on implementing actionable solutions that yield practical outcomes. Their emphasis on feasibility ensures that solutions are both effective and viable.

Theoretics: Theoretics enrich solution-based problem solving by delving into deep comprehension and expansive understanding. They consider underlying principles and long-term implications, contributing a strategic dimension to the process. Their insights often lead to comprehensive solutions that address root causes alongside immediate issues.

Exploring Other Avenues of Problem Solving

Beyond solution-based problem solving, numerous other problem-solving approaches exist, each with distinct focuses and methodologies. A few of these approaches include:

Problem-Centric Approach: This approach emphasizes a thorough understanding of the problem before generating solutions. It involves in-depth analysis of root causes, underlying issues, and potential consequences, ensuring targeted and well-informed solutions.

Design Thinking: Centered on empathy, design thinking involves understanding users, defining the problem, ideating solutions, prototyping, and testing. It fosters creativity, collaboration, and iteration, often yielding user-centric and innovative solutions.

Critical Thinking: Critical thinking entails evaluating problems from various angles using evidence, assumptions, and logical reasoning. It aims for well-reasoned decisions rooted in careful assessment.

Decision Matrix: A quantitative method, the decision matrix involves listing potential solutions and assigning weights to criteria. It systematically evaluates solutions based on alignment with criteria, leading to informed decisions.

Root Cause Analysis: This approach seeks fundamental causes rather than symptoms, aiming to prevent similar issues in the future. It involves iterative questioning of "why" to uncover deeper problems.

Lean Problem Solving: Derived from lean manufacturing, this approach minimizes waste and inefficiencies, optimizing resources and solving problems with minimal disruption.

TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving): This systematic approach identifies inventive solutions by drawing on innovation patterns. It applies specific principles to overcome contradictions and generate creative solutions.

Brainstorming: Brainstorming generates numerous ideas freely, fostering creativity and divergence before narrowing down to viable solutions.

Kaizen: Rooted in continuous improvement, Kaizen emphasizes incremental changes and team involvement to identify and solve problems collaboratively.

Six Thinking Hats: This method involves considering a problem from six perspectives, fostering diverse viewpoints and well-rounded solutions.

These approaches offer just a glimpse into the array of problem-solving methodologies available. Depending on the situation, context, and goals, different approaches may prove more suitable. Effective problem solvers adeptly adapt their methods as circumstances require.

In conclusion, problem-solving is a multifaceted art that draws on various strategies and approaches. Understanding our problem-solving inclinations and the types that resonate with us empowers us to navigate challenges more effectively and collaborate harmoniously with others. The diverse spectrum of problem-solving types, coupled with the interplay of solution-based problem solving, enriches our problem-solving toolkit and equips us for success in an ever-evolving world.

Ways of Thinking

Ways of thinking can vary widely based on different cognitive processes, approaches, and mental frameworks. Here are several distinct ways of thinking, including the ones you've mentioned and more:

  1. Critical Thinking: This involves analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information to form reasoned judgments or make decisions. It often involves questioning assumptions, considering evidence, and recognizing biases.

  2. Literal Thinking: Literal thinking involves interpreting information exactly as it's presented, without abstract or metaphorical interpretation. It focuses on the surface-level meaning of words and concepts.

  3. Creative Thinking: Creative thinking involves generating novel and innovative ideas, solutions, and concepts. It often involves making connections between seemingly unrelated things and thinking "outside the box."

  4. Analytical Thinking: Analytical thinking is the process of breaking down complex information into smaller parts to understand their relationships and patterns. It's used to solve problems and make decisions based on a systematic approach.

  5. Synthetic Thinking: Synthetic thinking involves combining separate ideas, concepts, or elements to form a new and integrated whole. It's often used in tasks that require generating comprehensive solutions or theories.

  6. Abstract Thinking: Abstract thinking involves understanding concepts that are not immediately tied to specific, tangible examples. It requires grasping ideas at a conceptual level and thinking in terms of broader principles.

  7. Systems Thinking: Systems thinking involves understanding how individual components within a larger system interact and influence one another. It's used to analyze complex systems and their behaviors.

  8. Holistic Thinking: Holistic thinking involves considering the bigger picture and understanding how various elements are interconnected. It emphasizes the interdependence of parts within a whole.

  9. Divergent Thinking: Divergent thinking is about generating multiple ideas or solutions from a single point. It's associated with creativity and brainstorming.

  10. Convergent Thinking: Convergent thinking is the opposite of divergent thinking. It involves narrowing down options to find the best solution or answer. It's often used in problem-solving situations.

  11. Inductive Thinking: Inductive thinking involves deriving general principles from specific observations or examples. It's used to make broad conclusions based on specific evidence.

  12. Deductive Thinking: Deductive thinking involves starting with a general premise and using it to draw specific conclusions. It's often used in formal logic and reasoning.

  13. Intuitive Thinking: Intuitive thinking involves making judgments or decisions based on gut feelings and instinctive reactions, often without conscious reasoning.

  14. Linear Thinking: Linear thinking is characterized by a step-by-step progression of thoughts, often following a logical sequence. It's used in tasks that require a clear and orderly flow of ideas.

  15. Emotional Thinking: Emotional thinking involves considering and responding to situations primarily based on emotions and feelings, rather than objective analysis.

  16. Practical Thinking: Practical thinking focuses on finding solutions and making decisions that are immediately applicable and effective in real-world situations.

These are just a few examples, and in reality, our thinking processes often combine several of these approaches depending on the context and the problem we're trying to address. Moreover, these ways of thinking are not mutually exclusive; they can complement each other and be used in tandem to approach various challenges from multiple angles.

Our way of thinking and problem-solving are closely related because the way we think directly influences how we approach and solve problems. Different thinking styles can lead to different problem-solving strategies and outcomes.

Specific ways specific styles of thinking can impact problem-solving:

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Critical thinkers analyze information, identify biases, and evaluate evidence before making decisions. In problem-solving, critical thinkers carefully consider various perspectives and potential solutions. For example, when faced with a complex social issue, a critical thinker would research multiple sources, assess different viewpoints, and develop a well-reasoned solution.

  2. Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving: Creative thinkers generate novel ideas and unconventional solutions. In problem-solving, they might approach challenges from unexpected angles. For instance, in product design, a creative thinker might devise an innovative feature that addresses a user's need in a unique way.

  3. Analytical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Analytical thinkers break down complex problems into smaller parts to understand their structure and relationships. In problem-solving, they meticulously dissect each component before forming a comprehensive solution. In financial analysis, for example, an analytical thinker would examine various factors influencing a company's performance before making investment recommendations.

  4. Systems Thinking and Problem-Solving: Systems thinkers consider how different elements interact within a larger system. In problem-solving, they identify underlying patterns and connections to solve complex issues. When addressing environmental problems, a systems thinker would explore the interdependencies between ecosystems, human behavior, and policy decisions.

  5. Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Problem-Solving: Divergent thinkers generate a multitude of possible solutions. Convergent thinkers then narrow down those options to find the best one. In marketing, a divergent thinker might brainstorm numerous advertising concepts, while a convergent thinker would select the most effective idea for implementation.

  6. Inductive and Deductive Thinking in Problem-Solving: Inductive thinkers generalize from specific examples to broader principles. Deductive thinkers start with general principles and apply them to specific situations. In medical diagnosis, an inductive thinker might recognize common symptoms to infer a potential disease, while a deductive thinker might use established medical guidelines to pinpoint a diagnosis.

  7. Emotional and Rational Thinking in Problem-Solving: Emotional thinkers are influenced by feelings and empathy when solving problems. Rational thinkers emphasize logic and evidence. When addressing conflicts in a team, an emotional thinker might prioritize open dialogue to understand emotions, while a rational thinker could use data to propose a solution that aligns with the team's goals.

  8. Practical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Practical thinkers prioritize pragmatic solutions that can be implemented efficiently. When faced with a budget constraint, a practical thinker might choose cost-effective methods for problem-solving to achieve the desired outcome within resource limitations.


  1. How has problem-solving evolved to become a crucial skill in today's world, affecting both personal and professional aspects of life?

  2. How does identifying your own problem-solving type help you approach challenges more effectively and contribute to collaborative efforts?

  3. Why is it important to recognize and understand the diverse problem-solving types, as highlighted by the Harvard Business Review study?

  4. What are the defining characteristics of analytical problem solvers, and how can their approach be beneficial in various situations?

  5. Creatives are known for innovative thinking and embracing unconventional solutions. How might this approach contribute to solving complex problems?

  6. Practical problem solvers prioritize efficiency and tangible results. How might their strengths be harnessed to address real-world challenges effectively?

  7. Theoretics delve into deeper understanding and root causes of problems. How can their strategic thinking benefit decision-making processes?

More Discussion:

  1. How can understanding the four problem-solving types (analyticals, creatives, practicals, theoretics) help individuals better navigate challenges in their personal and professional lives? Share examples of situations where identifying these types could be beneficial.

  2. Reflecting on your own problem-solving tendencies, which of the four types do you believe resonates with you the most? Can you provide specific examples from your experiences that align with this type?

  3. In the context of solution-based problem solving, how do the strengths of each problem-solving type contribute to a more holistic approach? Can you think of scenarios where a combination of these strengths could lead to more effective solutions?

  4. Solution-based problem solving often involves considering practical implementation and actionable steps. How do practical problem solvers contribute to finding solutions that are both effective and feasible to implement?

  5. Creativity plays a significant role in both solution-based problem solving and the creative problem-solving type. How do you think these two concepts intersect? Can you share an instance where an innovative approach led to a breakthrough solution?

  6. The study suggests that successful problem solvers adapt their strategies based on the nature of the challenge. Can you provide examples of situations where a theoretics-driven solution might be more appropriate compared to a practical-driven solution, or vice versa?


Practice Exercises:

Vocabulary Practice: Match the Words

Match the vocabulary words on the left with their meanings on the right.

  1. Contemporary

  2. Intrigue

  3. Individualistic

  4. Diverse

  5. Cognitive

  6. Amalgamate

  7. Inclination

  8. Harmoniously

  9. Paradigm

  10. Rigor

A. Combine different elements

B. Varied; showing variety

C. Strictness or thoroughness

D. Belonging to the present time

E. Characterized by uniqueness

F. Arouse curiosity or interest

G. Related to mental processes

H. Adapt to various tasks

I. A typical example or pattern

J. In a pleasingly consistent way

Grammar Practice: Fill in the Blanks

Fill in the blanks with the correct vocabulary words from the list provided.

  1. The ___________ changes in technology have transformed the way we communicate.

  2. The mystery novel's plot ___________ readers with unexpected twists and turns.

  3. Each person has their own ___________ preferences when it comes to art.

  4. The team's ___________ backgrounds contributed to a creative and dynamic atmosphere.

  5. ___________ development involves learning and applying problem-solving skills.

  6. The chef decided to ___________ different flavors to create a unique dish.

  7. Her ___________ towards music led her to pursue a career in singing.

  8. The colors in the painting blended ___________, creating a visually appealing effect.

  9. The scientific experiment was conducted with great ___________ to ensure accurate results.

  10. The new theory introduced a ___________ shift in the field of psychology.

Comprehension Practice: Answer the Questions

Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow.

"In today's rapidly changing world, problem-solving has become an essential skill. We all have our own unique ways of approaching challenges, influenced by our strengths and cognitive styles. A study by the Harvard Business Review categorized problem solvers into four types: analyticals, creatives, practicals, and theoretics. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these types can lead to effective collaboration."

  1. What has become an essential skill in today's world?

  2. How are our approaches to challenges influenced?

  3. How many problem-solving types did the Harvard Business Review study identify?

  4. What can understanding problem-solving types lead to?

  5. Name one of the problem-solving types mentioned in the study.

Discussion Practice: Express Your Opinion

  1. Do you think problem-solving skills are important in both personal and professional situations? Why or why not?

  2. Do you believe people's problem-solving approaches are influenced by their personality traits? Give an example.

  3. Which problem-solving type do you think resonates with you the most? Why?

  4. How might a combination of different problem-solving types enhance a team's ability to solve complex issues?

  5. Can you think of a situation where a creative problem-solving approach would be more effective than a structured one? Explain.

Practice Script: Debate on Problem-Solving Techniques: Their Merits and Applications

Person A: "Ladies and gentlemen, today we're here to discuss various problem-solving techniques and their merits in different contexts. I believe that structured problem-solving methods, such as the scientific method, provide a systematic approach to addressing challenges. These techniques involve identifying the problem, gathering data, formulating hypotheses, conducting experiments, and drawing conclusions. They are highly effective in fields like science, engineering, and medicine, where precise solutions are crucial."

Person B: "Thank you for your viewpoint. While structured methods certainly have their place, I'd like to advocate for a more creative and intuitive approach to problem-solving. Techniques like brainstorming and design thinking encourage out-of-the-box thinking and collaboration. In today's rapidly changing world, where novel challenges emerge frequently, flexibility and adaptability are key. These techniques help us navigate uncertainties and come up with innovative solutions."

Person A: "I appreciate your emphasis on creativity, but I worry that without a structured approach, we might miss important details or fail to address the root cause of the problem. Structured methods ensure that solutions are based on evidence and logic, reducing the risk of errors and overlooking critical factors. They're particularly valuable in fields where safety and accuracy are paramount."

Person B: "I agree that safety and accuracy are vital, but let's not underestimate the power of creativity in problem-solving. For instance, in the business world, design thinking has revolutionized product development by focusing on user needs and experiences. It encourages empathy and leads to solutions that resonate with people. Moreover, in situations where the problem is complex and multifaceted, traditional methods might not offer the flexibility needed to adapt."

Person A: "I see your point, but structured methods can also be adapted to complex situations. Take Six Sigma, for example. It's a problem-solving methodology that combines data analysis with process improvement to minimize defects. It can be applied in diverse fields, from manufacturing to healthcare, resulting in improved efficiency and customer satisfaction. These methods are tried and tested, providing a reliable framework."

Person B: "Absolutely, Six Sigma is valuable, but we must acknowledge that not all problems have well-defined parameters or data readily available. In fields like art, social sciences, and even entrepreneurship, the uniqueness of each challenge demands a more open-ended approach. Techniques like lateral thinking encourage us to explore multiple angles and consider unconventional solutions that might be overlooked in a structured method."

Person A: "That's a valid perspective. However, structured methods like root cause analysis can still be beneficial even in creative fields. Pinpointing the underlying issues can lead to more effective and targeted solutions. And let's not forget the importance of project management techniques in keeping complex projects on track. In industries like construction and software development, these methods are essential for successful execution."

Person B: "I appreciate your dedication to structured techniques, and I do agree that they have their merits. However, we must find a balance. Relying solely on one approach can limit our problem-solving potential. The key is to recognize the strengths of each method and apply them as needed. A hybrid approach that combines the rigor of structured methods with the flexibility of creative techniques can yield innovative solutions across a spectrum of challenges."

Person A: "You make a compelling argument for a hybrid approach, and I believe that context plays a significant role in determining the most suitable method. In conclusion, problem-solving is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. We need to leverage the strengths of both structured and creative techniques to address the diverse array of challenges we face in various fields."

Person B: "Thank you for engaging in this discussion. It's clear that both structured and creative problem-solving techniques have their place in our problem-solving toolkit. By embracing a versatile approach, we can adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of challenges and continue to find effective solutions."

Moderator: "Thank you both for your insightful debate on problem-solving techniques. Your perspectives shed light on the diverse approaches that can be employed to address problems across different disciplines. It's evident that a well-rounded problem-solving strategy considers the merits of various techniques in different contexts."

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