In the February 2012 Academy of Management publication “Perspectives”, Jackson Nickerson and his associates suggest that that management’s problem finding and problem solving ability is vital for organizational performance and provides a platform for scientifically designing organizations. Our own research and experience agree completely. See for example :
1. Basadur, M.S. (1992). Managing creativity: A Japanese model. Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 6 (2), 29-42, which provided evidence that top Japanese companies deliberately induce problem finding perormance as well as problem solving and solution implementation performance as their approach to organizational design, performance and motivation.
2. Basadur, M.S. and Basadur, T.M. (2011). Where are the generators? Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, Vol 5 (1), 29-42. How organizational sustainability depends on designing and implementing a continuous four stage process beginning with problem finding is demonstrated. The first stage, generation, is disruptive, because it entails proactively and deliberately seeking and discovering brand new problems and opportunities leading to solving them. As a result , peoplewho prefer this kind of activity are often seen somewhat as misfits, and management must make this stage attractive and mainstreamed, rather than just give it lip service.
At Basadur Applied Creativity, we have created an instrument by which an organization (or team or individual) can assess its relative preferences and inclinations for problem finding , problem conceptualizing, problem solving and solution implementation activity. The instrument raises awareness of the power of problem finding and problem solving to organizational design and could be a big asset to the important work of the Nickerson team. The measurement tool is called the Basadur Profile and can be accessed at http://www.basadurprofile.com.
This line of research offers a different , long overdue approach to organizational design and organizational development. The Basadur Profile is the centerpiece of several publications about organizational problem finding and solving available at www.basadur.com .