Humans At Work with Michael Glazer

#73: Better Problem Solving

Problem-solving is a crucial skill for so many jobs, so why aren’t we taught how to do it properly? This conversation dives deep into research-backed process and techniques that help businesspeople and their teams navigate and solve problems better and faster.


Arnaud Chevallier is a co-author of Solvable: A Simple Solution to Complex Problems. He is also a Professor of Strategy and decision making at IMD where he prepares executives for the strategic challenges that organizations face in today’s dynamic global marketplace by helping them make better decisions in volatile and uncertain conditions. Arnaud has consulted with multiple organizations across industries, including the United Nations, SAP, STADA, and Shell.

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Episode Highlights

2:31 Complex and ill-defined problems

4:37 Famous, historical example of solving a symptom and not the cause

8:15 How to effectively frame a problem

10:30 Examples of effective problem framing

11:14 The problem with how companies are framing Return To Office

12:19 Too much vs too little stakeholder engagement

15:04 How much info is needed to frame a problem well

16:15 The value of taking a probabilistic approach

18:45 How to prevent info overload when framing problems

21:01 What differentiates how great teams approach problems

22:03 Engagement is about more than inviting people to the table

25:26 Balancing establishing credibility and showing vulnerability

26:32 Approach for mapping out solutions to problems

30:42 What MECE is and how to apply it in problem solving

33:41 How much mapping is needed for complex problems

35:22 Example of how diverse thinking leads to breakthrough solutions

37:56 Addressing our blind spots in problem solving

40:41 How to agree on evaluation criteria when choosing a solution

Arnaud’s view on the greatest unmet wellbeing need at work today

"Stress and and realizing how much stress is crippling us. And I'd say let's start with this. I think there's been a oh, there is an ongoing shift from being 'the tough people' to admitting we don't have all the answers and [admitting we have] vulnerabilities. And when we're in stressful situations, we should be able to speak up and look and ask, 'okay, how do we overcome this?'"

What “working with humans” means to Arnaud

“I trained as an engineer, [and as it relates to] problem solving, it's a science. It's also an art. So working with humans, what I love is the fascinating interactions between the science and the art.”


Follow: on LinkedIn and through IMD

Read: Solvable: A Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

Read: Adam Grant on having a "challenge network" (Knowledge at Wharton)

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