Problem Solving vs Problem Finding

I read an article of what employers want from the graduates. And one of the answer is problem solving skills. Is problem solving still the critical skills that industry really want?

There is an interesting research that explains this. In his book – To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink explain on a study by the Conference Board –  a well regarded Business Group in the US. They provide a survey to Employers and Education Superintendent, and asked them to rate the cognitive capacities that are most important on today’s workforce.

Interestingly, both group are not on the same page. Education superintendent ranked ‘Problem Solving’ as no.1 but the employer executives ranked that as no. 8. They ranked the most important skills are ‘Problem Identification.’
Why is that so? In today’s world, problem solving is considered one skills that everyone should already mastered. Once you understand a problem, you can always use technology to find a solution. If you don’t have that answer from the internet, you can always asked it in a forum. In addition there are so many tools developed to solve problems.

But what matters most today is to identify that there is a problem. If you don’t know that there is a problem, how could you solve them. Great leaders are great at problem identification. Think about it, any leaders that you have ever know, they are able to identify a problem. They align it with their life purpose. Steve Jobs, created a phone where no one ever notice that their current phone is actually a problem. They make it a problem and create a market for it.

Howard Schultz create Starbucks where he identify people needs a 3rd place between home and office. The list can go on-and-on, but the foundation is the same. As a leader, you need to find your life purpose, identify that there is a problem, create a vision to change this world into a better place.

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