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StrategyDriven Decision-Making Best Practice Article

Decision-Making Best Practice 8 – Observe the Opportunity or Problem First Hand

Every problem possesses unique nuanced qualities and it is often these minor details that renders a decision a striking success, a monumental failure, or, most frequently, simply average. Those who recognize these details can exploit them to their organization’s advantage.


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Leadership Inspirations – Solving Problems

StrategyDriven Leadership InspirationsAlbert Einstein is arguably one of the greatest problem solvers of all time. Whether examining a physical phenomenon or business challenge his thoughts on problem solving are timelessly applicable. Below are some of these philosophies:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

“It takes a higher order of thinking to fix a problem than that which created it.”

and

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

Albert Einstein

Awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, named Time’s Man of the Century in 1999, and best known for his conception of the theories of special and general relativity

Problem-Solving Success Tip: Measure

Measure.

The first key question to answer in starting a problem-solving project is, “How will you know when the problem is solved?” Answer this question in measurable terms before you start trying to solve the problem. As you begin defining your problem, these success metrics help set clear expectations about what will be different when you finish. At the end of the project, the measurements will demonstrate that the difference has been achieved, i.e., the problem has been solved.

To be useful, success measurements must be simple in concept and connected so clearly to the problem that you can remember them easily. As with the description, somebody who doesn’t already know about the problem should be able to read your success criteria and understand them.

The objective in setting success metrics for a problem-solving project is to define the minimum necessary to solve the problem. This is completely opposite to the way we usually set goals. In problem-solving, we want to do everything necessary to solve the problem, but nothing extra.

Once you decide what your success metrics will be, check them with real data. This not only verifies that you really can collect and report the measurements, but also lets you establish baselines. Measure exactly what your performance is before you start analyzing the problem and taking corrective action. The baseline measurements let you confirm that there really is a problem and sanity checks the performance levels you’ve defined as success. You can make corrections if necessary, before you start down a wrong path.

Measure to determine that the problem is solved, but also use measurements throughout the problem-solving process. Measurements can also help you test assumptions, verify root causes, assure tasks are completed properly and report progress.

Bottom line: if you don’t measure, you won’t know for sure. Use measurements to learn and portray the truth – the real truth, not what you wish were true.

Copyright 2009. Jeanne Sawyer.

Article Source:
http://www.bestmanagementarticles.com
http://business-management.bestmanagementarticles.com


About the Author:

Jeanne Sawyer helps her clients solve expensive, chronic problems, such as those that cause operational disruptions and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. These tips are excerpted from her book, When Stuff Happens: A Practical Guide to Solving Problems Permanently. Now also an ebook, find out about it and get more free information on problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com/.

Problem-Solving Success Tip: Test Your Assumptions About Everything

Test your assumptions about everything.

Assumptions have a way of creeping into all parts of a problem-solving project. They’re often wrong, which can lead to a lot of wasted effort and even cause a problem-solving project to fail entirely. It’s very easy to take a strongly stated assertion as true, especially if it’s the boss who makes it. Remind everyone involved to be skeptical and on the watch for untested assumptions.

Problem definition. Check the facts first to be sure that you and your team understand the problem the same way, and that you have data to confirm that the problem is important. Testing assumptions about the problem definition could include interviewing participants, collecting measurements, creating flow charts of what really happened, etc.

Organizing your project. Don’t assume that the resources you need to solve the problem will automatically be available to you. Solving a messy problem is a project. Treat it that way by developing a project plan, obtaining sponsorship, getting commitment to participate from key players, etc.

Root Cause Analysis. This is a favorite spot for untested assumptions to show up, especially if you use a root cause analysis method based on brainstorming. Once you’ve got a list of possible causes, be sure to collect data, devise tests or do whatever you have to verify which causes are real.

Choosing solutions. Test assumptions about proposed solutions by answering the questions: “How likely is the approach to eliminate a root cause of this problem” and “How practical is this approach (do I have the resources to actually do it and can I achieve the solution in an appropriate amount of time)?”

Testing assumptions throughout the problem-solving process will greatly improve your chances of solving the right problem successfully.

There is nothing so deceptive as an apparent truth.
– Russell Ackoff

copyright 2008. Jeanne Sawyer. All Rights Reserved.

Article Source:
http://www.bestmanagementarticles.com
http://crisis-management.bestmanagementarticles.com


About the Author:

Jeanne Sawyer helps her clients solve expensive, chronic problems, such as those that cause operational disruptions and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. These tips are excerpted from her book, When Stuff Happens: A Practical Guide to Solving Problems Permanently. Now also an ebook, find out about it and get more free information on problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com/.

Problem-Solving Success Tip – Use Your Time for Problems That are Truly Important

Use your time for problems that are truly important.

Hard as it may be to walk away once you’re aware of it, just because a problem is there doesn’t mean you have to solve it. Ask yourself and your colleagues, “What will happen if we don’t solve this problem?” If the answer is, “not much,” then turn your attention to something more important. If you don’t know what will happen, find out before you undertake a problem-solving project. It should be clear to you and everyone else involved that the problem is worth the effort-and expense-to fix it.

Quantify the cost of the problem quickly, but as realistically as you can. Include lost opportunity costs as well as real expenses such as staff time to deal with the problem, travel expenses, etc. Use actual costs where you can; estimate where you can’t. Then guesstimate what it will cost to analyze and fix it. Write your analysis down, stating all your assumptions explicitly. Get a colleague to verify that your assumptions and estimates are reasonable. Start with a rough “order of magnitude” estimate. That may be enough to answer the question of whether you should proceed. If it’s not clear, especially if the cost to solve it will be high, do a more careful analysis.

If it will cost more to fix than to live with the problem, or if the number is even close, perhaps your resources (time, people, money) are better spent on other projects. If you decide to proceed anyway, you can do so with a better understanding of what you’re undertaking. On the other hand, if you can demonstrate that the cost of the problem is much higher than the cost of solving it, using estimates based on reasonable assumptions, it will generally be much easier to get the resources you need. You can use your written analysis as a sales tool to help win support for your decision to proceed or not.

We have to learn to distinguish those things that are truly important from those that are merely urgent.
– Jerry D. Campbell

Copyright 2007. Jeanne Sawyer. All Rights Reserved.

Article Source:
http://www.bestmanagementarticles.com
http://crisis-management.bestmanagementarticles.com


About the Author:

Jeanne Sawyer helps her clients solve expensive, chronic problems, such as those that cause operational disruptions and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. These tips are excerpted from her book, When Stuff Happens: A Practical Guide to Solving Problems Permanently. Now also an ebook, find out about it and get more free information on problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com/.