Dr. Zacharia: Adaptive Problem-Solving – Lehigh University

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 11-21-23
On this episode “People Solve Problems” podcast, Jamie Flinchbaugh hosts Dr. Zach G. Zacharia, the Interim Department Chair (DATA) and Associate Professor at Lehigh University and Director of the Center for Supply Chain Research at Lehigh. Dr. Zacharia, with his extensive background in Supply Chain Management, shares his insights on problem-solving in various roles and settings. Dr. Zacharia begins by discussing how he taps into intuition for problem-solving, both personally and in a team setting. He believes in fostering an environment where intuition is valued, encouraging open-mindedness and collaborative thinking. This approach, he suggests, is crucial for reaching effective solutions. Addressing his role in problem-solving, Dr. Zacharia talks about the importance of understanding when to take charge, delegate, sponsor, or coach a problem-solving situation. He highlights the need for leaders to be adaptable and responsive to different scenarios, emphasizing that the decision-making process should be flexible and situation-dependent. One of the key topics Dr. Zacharia touches on is balancing speed with thoroughness in problem-solving. He believes that while quick decision-making is often necessary, it should not compromise the depth and quality of the problem-solving process. This balance, he suggests, is crucial in both personal and professional contexts. Dr. Zacharia also discusses how he assesses the capabilities of individuals and teams for problem-solving. He emphasizes the importance of evaluating skills, mindset, and overall readiness for problem-solving tasks. This assessment helps in providing tailored coaching and support, enhancing problem-solving abilities effectively. When it comes to team capabilities, Dr. Zacharia shares his approach in evaluating and utilizing the problem-solving strengths of his team. He stresses the significance of understanding each team member’s unique skills and how these can be applied collectively to solve problems more efficiently. Throughout the podcast, Dr. Zacharia maintains a focus on behaviors and culture in problem-solving. He underscores the importance of creating a positive culture that supports and encourages effective problem-solving behaviors. This focus, he suggests, is key to successful outcomes in any problem-solving endeavor. In response to a question about coaching problem-solving for someone difficult, Dr. Zacharia shares an example where he had to navigate a challenging situation. He talks about how he approached the issue with patience, understanding, and a clear strategy, ultimately leading to a successful resolution. This example underscores his belief in the power of effective communication and empathy in problem-solving. In conclusion, Dr. Zacharia’s conversation with Jamie Flinchbaugh in the “People Solve Problems” podcast provides valuable insights into the nuances of problem-solving in diverse roles. His experience and strategies offer practical advice for individuals and teams looking to enhance their problem-solving skills in various settings. For deeper insights into Dr. Zach G. Zacharia’s contributions to academia and industry, visit and You can also connect with him and follow his professional updates on LinkedIn