The holidays are around the corner and, though you may be excited at the thought of Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations, perhaps you’re also feeling an underlying sense of unease. You’re not alone. The holiday season is a stressful time for many people, partly because of the pressure it puts on them to ‘play nice’ despite longstanding and unspoken tensions.

“If you think you’re so enlightened,” said spiritual teacher Ram Dass, “go spend a week with your family.”

People are complicated. In their book ‘Wicked & Wise’, Alan Watts and Ken Wilber make the observation that ‘wicked problems’ – intractable problems that seem difficult or impossible to solve – almost always involve people.

Yet, the complexity and scale of problems that we face as individuals, teams, organizations, societies and as a species are only increasing. It’s no surprise then that, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest Future of Jobs Report, the most important skills in the workplace today are analytical thinking and innovation, and complex problem solving.

To solve difficult challenges, people need to work together. But what is the most effective way to do so? The first step perhaps is to understand how one solves problems in the first place.

Understand. Collaborate. Innovate.

The Basadur Profile is an innovation tool that helps teams and individuals innovate effectively and sustainably. It does this by analyzing how individuals approach problem solving and identifying their primary approach to tackling challenges.

Though we all exhibit facets of each of the problem-solving styles, we also naturally lean heaviest towards one or two of these roles:

1.   The Generator

You like to get things started. You are naturally drawn to ideation and imagining new possibilities. You tend towards experiential problem solving, getting involved, gathering information, questioning, coming up with new ideas.

With your ability to see things from new and different perspectives you work well in situations or problem-solving stages that require divergence over evaluation, decision-making, and implementation.

Generators are curious and find relevance in almost everything. They can think of good and bad sides to almost any idea or issue, and prefer to be fire-starters, allowing others to work with the details.

Generators enjoy ambiguity and love finding new problems and opportunities to work on.

2.   The Conceptualizer

You like to define a problem and put ideas and solutions together. You think abstractly, joining the dots and forming seemingly disconnected concepts and observations into an integrated whole.

Conceptualizers are masters of inductive reasoning and use it to arrive at a clear and precise understanding of a problem, before which they are reluctant to proceed.

However, this understanding does not necessarily trigger action – conceptualizers prefer not to be responsible for prioritizing, implementing or finalizing decisions, especially where there is ambiguity.

3.   Optimizer

The optimizer is the navigator. Your greatest interest lies in turning abstract ideas into practical solutions and plans, with considerable stress-testing of ideas. You may prefer those situations where it is possible to arrive at a single correct answer or optimum solution to a problem.

Optimizers are talented at using deductive reasoning to work with large amounts of information in finding the heart of the problem in any given situation. They have a strong objective view and tend to excel at making logical evaluations.

Optimizers like to narrow in on a plan or solution and may become frustrated with too much dreaming up of ‘unnecessary’ ideas, points of view or associations between problems.

4.   Implementor

Implementers like action and do what is necessary to get the job done. You enjoy carrying out plans and being involved in new experiences. You approach problems by trying our different options and approaches directly, rather than working them out mentally.

Implementors tend to be adaptable and agile in their problem-solving style. They are happy to proceed without a full understanding of the problem and feel comfortable, even invigorated, stepping into the unknown. As such, Implementors are usually happier with risk than the other three styles.

Implementors will usually value direct evidence over theory and often project an energy of eagerness and will-to-action, sometimes perceived as impatience or pushiness. They are happy to experiment, fail and re-iterate, trying as many different approaches as necessary until they find one that seems good enough.


Key to the Basadur model is the understanding that none of these types is better than the others – each has strengths or weaknesses depending on the type of problem or stage in the problem-solving process.

Rather, challenges arise when there is a deficit of any of these styles. In many organizations, for example, hiring practices unconsciously produce workforces heavily weighted towards Implementors. This is understandable as these are usually the people who are seen to produce results. However, Generators, Conceptualizers, and Optimizers are critical to ensuring that the actions that are implemented are in service of the best results.

The Basadur model is used by many group coaches to improve the quality of team and organizational problem solving, but if you would like to discover your personal profile click here.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash