30.04.2021 | Blog 3 |

Practical Thinking – A Solution-Oriented Approach

| The second dimension of the Hartman Value Profile (HVP) is Practical Thinking. It is an important competence to master problem situations effectively. Specifically, these are situations that do not require new expertise, but can be proactively implemented without further communication or clarification.

The following example can be given: An employee is assigned the task of creating a presentation about the company and moderating it at the next business meeting. Since this employee finds it difficult to speak fluently and freely, he decides to look for a tool that can give him a secure feeling during the presentation. He decides to write down his presentation on index cards, as this tool has already helped him in other situations to ensure a confident appearance.

If problems are ignored and postponed, this can quickly result in further problems, which can have a negative effect on one’s own emotional world and interaction with the environment as time goes on. The consequences are: Helplessness, a feeling of powerlessness, frustration, lack of motivation and lower productivity.

A strong practical mindset can prevent frustrating and dissatisfied stagnation in the work process. Where usually only the problem is initially seen in front of the eyes, practical thinking directs the focus directly to possible solutions.


What is practical thinking?

Practical thinking, also called common sense or “street smart,” describes the ability to perceive one’s surroundings and “recognize functionalities” from this perception (Vogel, 2018). This helps to grasp things in terms of their practical applicability to effectively solve a given problem.

Practical thinking is oriented in the first step to the question “What is around me?”. It enables observation of the environment and at the same time promotes visual acuity for potential resources as well as for a solution-oriented analysis of the circumstances.

In a second step, practical thinking asks, “What is to be done?”. The circumstances within the environment thereby open up to the individual the readiness to generate an operative and solution-oriented action, whereby a problematic situation can be managed in the most productive and goal-oriented way possible. Put simply, practical thinking is “the talent to recognize what makes life better and easier” (Vogel, 2018).


How can a problem be approached practically?

Essential to practical thinking is not focusing on the actual problem, but looking at possible solutions. A step-by-step approach is particularly helpful:

  1. First identify and define the problem.
  2. Observe the environment and identify resources (Helpful guiding questions: What is around me? What resources are available to me for solving my problem?)
  3. Formulate and evaluate solution approaches (Helpful guiding questions: What needs to be done? Which approach is sustainable and effective?)
  4. Acting in a solution-oriented way.
  5. Apply practical thinking to future problem situations.


What are positive effects of practical thinking?

Practical thinking represents a central competence, especially in the world of work, and includes versatile positive effects.

A person with a distinct practical way of thinking perceives his environment better and thus manages to tap helpful resources. This can be expressed, for example, in the exploration of collegial support. As a result, it not only promotes team skills, but maximizes efficiency in the workplace. At the same time, it reinforces strategic thinking, which is particularly important at management level. Consequently, it unleashes goal-oriented and expeditious action, which has a positive impact on productivity and success.

In addition, a practical mindset reduces stress and frustration. Unpleasant situations are significantly minimized and new challenges are considered less stressful, which promotes motivation and self-confidence. Practical thinking thus also produces positive effects on a personal level.




Practical thinking is an important component within the Hartman Value Profile. On the candidate side, the HVP makes statements about practical orientation and problem solving (ability) as well as the candidate’s willingness to solve problems practically (willingness).

The evaluation of practical thinking through the HVP process allows companies to gain insight about a candidate. Based on these results, a company can determine if a candidate is suitable for a position that specifically requires solution-oriented thinking.

In addition, practical thinking not only enhances the perception of the environment and trains a solution-oriented view, but also releases operational action and is thus a crucial soft skill in crisis management and leadership positions.

In addition to practical thinking, problem situations can be addressed through structured thinking. As the third dimension of the Hartman Value Profile, structured thinking will be discussed in more detail in the upcoming blog.


Author: Dimitra Sismanidou, April 2021
Copyright: IAM Global GmbH



Vogel, U. (2018). Profilingvalues: Handbuch. System, Anwendungen und Interpretation des Reports. Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Profilingvalues.