How Crime Novels Can Teach You The #1 Business Skill You Need In 2020

Did you know that according to the World Economic Forum, the #1 business skill required to succeed in the new decade is the ability to solve complex problems?

If you want to become a better and more powerful leader in your company, mastering how to solve complex business problems is not optional – it’s imperative to your success.

Read on to discover how you can sharpen your problem-solving skills…

Solving Complex Business Problems IS A Complex Problem

Like you, I always want to keep my skills up to date, and learning more about this “complex problem solving” stuff is one of those “must have” skills so vital to your business success. However, after reading tons of books and articles, I have concluded that solving complex problems is itself a complex problem.

What to do? How to make some sense of all this stuff?

After some initial research (which quickly led to a headache), I decided to take a “mental vacation” from the task… and retreat into the world of recreational reading (aka, fiction).

And then it struck me!

My favorite genre – detective novels – is a great problem-solving model that provides insightful and valuable answers.

After all, isn’t Nero Wolfe a problem solver? How about Hercule Poirot? Who would want to match wits with Inspector Alleyn? And get yourself out of the way of V. I. Warshawski… she has a caper to solve!

No computers. No Big Data. No hotshot consultants. Just brains.

OK, so how might you wrap your mental arms around this “detective stuff?”

A good starting point for solving your complex business problems is to think like a mystery writer. And even if you don’t have a crime novel obsession like me, you can apply the same skills and methods from fictional savvy detectives to solve your business challenges.

How The 9 Elements In Detective Novels Can Help You Solve Your Complex Business Problems

Every great mystery novel has 9 elements: the crime, the scene of the crime, the motive, the victim, the criminal, the detective, a variety of suspects, an element of time, and the solution.

Let’s delve into how these 9 elements might be applied to overcome complex business problems:

  • The Crime = “The Problem”
    What specifically is hindering your business? What key performance indicators are “out of whack?” Profitability? Same-store sales? Personnel turnover? Quality? Sometimes the hardest part about solving a problem is clearly defining it.
  • The Scene Of The Crime = “The Context”
    What’s changing in your industry? How is the competitive landscape changing? Is the problem unique to your environment, or prevalent across your entire industry? Perhaps it’s time to consider a business CSI team.
  • The Motive = “The Root Cause(s)”
    Why is “the crime” being committed? Who is changing the rules of the game you’ve played for so many years? Is Amazon out to hurt you specifically, or is their pursuit of new profit centers affecting all businesses in your industry? Symptoms are usually obvious… your job is to figure out why they exist and how you’re being impacted.
  • The Victim = “The Organization”
    Who’s being hurt? Is the entire industry being disrupted? Your business unit? Is the victim your company… or the people who lose their jobs?
  • The Criminal = “???”
    Identifying the criminal can be challenging, because it may not be your competitor. In fact, it might be your management team – or even you – who allowed the crime to happen. Who killed Kodak? Was it digital photography, or was it a management team that saw it and did nothing about it?
  • The Detective = “You!”
    Sorry to remind you of this, but it’s your responsibility to solve the problems you see in your company or team. If you don’t, you should consider yourself as an “accessory to the crime.” Hint: You want to be the hero problem-solver… not a contributor to the problem!
  • The Suspects = “The Symptoms”
    Sometimes the “obvious” solution is not the right solution because you’ve chased the wrong suspect. Maybe you’d like to fix a “morale problem,” but the problem is actually a symptom of your management style (leading to poor morale on your team).
  • Time = “Deadlines”
    Do you have five days, five weeks, five months, or five years to resolve the problem?
  • The Solution = “Your Problem Resolution”
    I’ll leave this up to you. After all, it’s your problem.

It’s Time For You To Be The Detective

Just as with crime novels, complex business problems always involve people. We love to leverage technical solutions to our business problems, but just like the fictional detectives, you’re still inevitably going to be dealing with people.

And just like the characters in detective novels who have hidden wants and needs, it’s up to you – as a business leader – to sleuth, poke around, ask questions, discover, be curious, and ultimately figure out the “people issues” so you can solve them.

You are the detective! But you are not alone.

MindPrep Resource Center is here to help you be the best detective you can be so you accomplish your business goals. Reach out to us today!

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