How to Solve Problems as a Team

How to Solve Problems as a Team

Solving problems are one of the most common objectives of a team and is usually the . The diverse set of skills the team members bring to the team enhances the chance of finding a solution. In this article we will be looking at how problems are solved as a team.

Related: Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activities

The Six Thinking Hats

Dr. Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats is a powerful technique which a team can use to solve problems by looking at the problem from various different perspectives. It encourages team members to move outside their habitual ways of thinking. It also assists the team to understand the full complexity of a decision and to identify issues and opportunities which they might not otherwise notice. The various different perspectives are symbolized by different color hats. The act of putting on a colored hat allows a team member to symbolically think in terms of the perspective which the colored hat symbolizes.

White Hat – Neutrality
The team members make statements of fact. Information that is absent is identified and the views of people who are not present are presented in a factual manner.

Red Hat – Feeling
The team members state their feelings and exercise their gut instincts. It is a good method of harvesting ideas and getting the team to identify their top two or three choices. It helps the team to reduce a list of many options into a few to focus on. In this method of thinking each team member gets to vote for the solution they prefer.

Black Hat – Negative Judgment
Team members are encourage to identify barriers, hazards, risks and other negative connotations. This perspective involves critical thinking with team members looking for problems and mismatches. In this state team members should be discouraged from seeking solutions to raised problems.

Yellow Hat – Positive Judgment
Team members are asked to identify the benefits associated with a certain option or solution. In contrast to black hat thinking, this perspective looks for reasons in favor of something. This perspective is not just blind optimism but it is also an analytical process.

Green Hat – Creative Thinking
Team members are encouraged to think for the sake of identifying new possibilities. Things are said for the sake of seeing what they might mean, rather than to form a judgment. This form of thinking can take many forms and can cover the full spectrum of creativity.

Blue Hat – The Big Picture
All the team members are asked to discuss the thinking process. The team leader will generally wear this hat throughout the process and each member will be require to put it on from time to time. This hat should be used at the beginning of the problem solving session to set objectives and to define the route to take to get to them. It is also used to evaluate where the group has got to, and where the thinking process is going.


Brainstorming is a simple but effective method for generating ideas and suggestions. Brainstorming sessions allow team members to use each other as creative resources and are effective when a subject is being introduced. The aim of brainstorming is to generate a large quantity of ideas in a short time. This is usually followed by the sorting and prioritizing of the ideas to refine the results.

Building Consensus

Consensus is the point of maximum agreement from which action can follow. It is the one solution where everyone in the team feels that they have a solution that does not compromise any strong conviction or needs. In order to reach consensus, team members share, discuss, evaluate, organize and prioritize ideas.

To obtain consensus among the team, the leader must be able to separate the content from the process. The process should get the most attention with the leader assisting the team to solve its own problem.

The problem-solving process is as follows:

  1. Identify the problem or goal.
  2. Generate alternative solutions.
  3. Establish objective criteria.
  4. Decide on a solution that best fits the criteria.
  5. Proceed with the solution.

Everyone involved in the process should understand exactly which step is being worked on at any given point. When team members sense a problem, they are usually reacting to symptoms of the problem. But they are side effects of the real problem which usually lies below the surface.



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