By Tayla Boni, senior solutionist at Synthesis Technologies
While not new, the solutionist is probably one of the most misunderstood roles in an organisation. Put simply, the solutionist collaborates with management to understand the company’s problems and create solutions for them. Even though the person has such an integral part to play in the success of the modern business, many companies tend to overlook the position.
And yet, the function this convergent thinker can fulfil inside the organisation can be a revolutionary one. A solutionist looks outside of technology and processes with a complete focus towards how best to overcome any specific challenges that exist within the business. The person is therefore a link between the business and the technology being used. Thanks to the rapid adoption of digital transformation initiatives, companies are required to rethink and fast-track certain processes. It is in this space where the solutionist can add value by understanding the root cause of the challenges and is able to propose digital-centric ways of overcoming them.
Back to basics
Typically, solutionists follow a very process engineering-driven approach. They follow a user, how they work, and get taken through every step of the process. They constantly ask questions regarding the why, what, where, when, and how to be able to effectively unpack all aspects of the process and identify areas to optimise.
From a customer perspective, it comes down to unpacking the problems they face and identifying potential ways to overcome that. It is very much a scenario of trying to fix the root cause. Only then, can other challenges be overcome.
It is not about throwing technology at the problem but looking and understanding the person behind it. Solutionists sit down and discuss the needs and wants of users to understand their specific requirements. They spend time figuring out what works, what does not work, and how to address issues.
For a solutionist to work optimally inside a business, there must be transparency around processes and completely open communication taking place. Of course, leaders must also encourage behaviour inside the company to create an environment where solutionists are embraced.
People must be able to speak their mind on the challenges they face. They should be encouraged to work with the solutionist and step outside their comfort zone. Employees all have different viewpoints. The company must create a culture where solution-driven problem-solving is embraced if people are to trust the process the solutionist embarks on.
General to specialist
Solutionists are just one part of a larger process. Even within their area of focus, there are those who specialise in certain processes while others are considered generalists. The latter can move more effectively between different organisational hierarchies.
For those companies who do not have solutionists in place, it will become increasingly challenging to get a ‘neutral’ perspective on how best to address some of the key challenges they need to overcome. Solutionists provide a much-needed outside-in viewpoint with the benefit of being involved in the business as an employee.