It is wise to offer an easy-to-understand solution to the problems others face and here are eight key actions that could make the difference between taking shots in the dark and hitting the bulls-eye on the first try.
1. Think first, act later
When something serious goes wrong, the pressure is on. And there is massive pressure to “Do something. doesn’t matter what, just do something.” And it’s the worse thing that could happen.
A “think first, act later” approach to business problem solving tends to be more productive. Despite the pressure to get resolve an issue, it is essential to “Think first, act later”. Identify a probable cause of the problem, tested it against the problem specification and then take action.
2. One problem at a time
When you are under pressure to solve a problem, it is usually a time-sensitive situation, and you must quickly isolate the problem.
Your business will have many problems to solve, but it only takes one problem to flatten you. So after analysis, the team agrees on an exact, specific key issue. And it’s defined by writing it down. Test and train your teams on easy problems first. There is no point pushing your team in the deep end, especially when there are more straightforward ways of putting your foot into the water.
3. The right questions and answers
It would be best if you switched your thinking upside down. The first thing to define is not what the problem is.
- Spend some time finding out what the problem isn’t.
- The places it didn’t happen
- The time it wasn’t seen
- What it isn’t effecting
- Problems that may have been there but weren’t
To be able to create comparisons and narrow the problem down, think what, where, when and how large.
Identify the differences between the “is”; and the “is not’. Analyse the evidence of what may have caused the problem.
The ability to find the real cause is only as good as the information you have collected during the problem specification. Always, check, double-check and triple-check the facts provided
The lack of a process is why, for years, medical experts understood malaria to be a water borne disease. Yes, dirty stagnant water in warm climates was the problem, and the people who lived around these patches of water were more likely to catch malaria. However, dirty water was not the main problem. It was the Mosquitoes who bred in the water. With this minimal fact-checking, it took years for the medical experts to believe.
We are always trying to find a simple solution to any problem. This has a significant influence on the perception give to the information and analysis presented to us. Our personal biases and other external influences get in the way to make a simple problem appear to difficult to solve.
Many startup users find simple solutions by challenging commonly held opinions and focusing on the facts. Simple not easy. Just because you find a simple solution, it does not necessarily mean that easy to implement. Work has to be put into the design to ensure you deliver the desired solution.
5. One process
Everyone needs a simple problem-solving process. Why? Because when a problem first presents itself, outrage and emotions could be running wild. People panic, throw about idea, shoot other’s down and are argued over. An unchecked team could go in circles indefinitely without getting a handle on the actual problem. After all change is risky.
A process something like this:
- Do everything in an agreed sequence
- Collect information with a recognised sequence
- Develop the possible causes
- Testing the possible causes to determine which is most probable
- Verify the real cause of the problem
No jumping around back and forth or going over ground that’s already been covered and no fixating on pet causes.
6. The right people
A disciplined process will result in many more benefits than just finding a solution to one problem. It could also bring the core team and knowledge holders together. Allowing your team to define the problem, gather the facts and develop possible causes, developing your teams into experts who can bring the right people in to support their challenge. However, it is fairly common for the best information and insights not to come from the technical experts but the generalists in the field.
7. Beyond the fix
You can usually prevent problems in the first place if teams thought about the consequences of their actions. Those trained in problem-solving also think about what they are doing. And how their activities could create more problems down the line.
In the future, to prevent a team working on a problem and coming to the same solution, it is essential to develop a problem database of all problem resolutions and action plans needed to correct the problem.
It is sometimes difficult to develop a solution to a problem. When you deal with recurring business problems, you have to remember that an acceptable needs to be found for those who will use it. If it is a customer who wants the problem resolved, they need to love it.
So, finding the cause of a problem should follow a well-thought-out, rational process, the best solution selected systematically. Following a shared, decision-making problem helps them understand which option best meets the objectives with the least risk.
And finally the team can think of ways to lessen the impact of the unavoidable risks in uncertain times.
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