Views for a
of a Shutdown
Views for a
David Farrell Responds
--My curiosity drives me to
wonder if the organization applied the “10-step
structured, problem-solving approach” to address the
very problem raised by this month’s question. If not,
the inquiry into root causes could begin right there. As we
all know, effective solutions are targeted at the removal
of root causes.
--My experience, that
effective solutions require the appropriate amount of rigor
in problem-solving methodology, drove me to apply it here.
Although I used a cause and effect diagram applying my
experience with difficulties in implementing
organization-wide, problem-solving discipline, space
limitations here caused me to display the results in a
“fault tree” format rather than a fishbone. It
came out this way:
“Not many people use
our 10-step structured problem-solving
anecdotal was provided; consider collecting hard data or
conducting a user survey.
process is not perceived as adding value: “I already
know what the solution is,” “I don’t know
how to use the problem-solving process,” “I
don’t know when to use it and when not
“I don’t like the 10-step problem-solving
--Process: Perceived as
inflexible; no recognition for using it; the 10-step
process is overly structured, hard to learn, hard to
remember, takes too long and doesn’t add
is no proof that using it adds value; hard data does not
exist on causes or on results.
fixes are rewarded; fire-fighting is rewarded more than
Management does not use the process itself. Management does
not expect/encourage/demand that others use it.
SOLUTIONS: (Based on those causes, your
data will help you identify those most likely to be
effective with your organization.)
--1. It may well be that
having only a problem-solving model, and a complex one at
that, may in fact be overly complex. Start with the process
itself. Develop alternative models so that the appropriate
degree of rigor can be applied based upon the complexity of
the problem and the risk associated with a bad solution.
(Notice that a simple 4-step approach is used
easy-to-follow visual aids for alternative approaches and
provide training on when to use which
--3. Encourage management
to model desired behavior. Facilitate/coach senior
management problem-solving sessions on critical
organization problems. Problem-solving methodologies
represent a mental discipline, a way to think; they help
organize thinking, not replace thought. Encourage
management to require subordinates to present
recommendations and solutions in a format that includes
appropriate levels of data and cause analysis.
--4. Collect data on the
entire timeline from problem awareness to effective
implementation of solutions. All too often it appears that
shooting from the hip is quicker, but rarely is the time
through to implementation, not just solution
identification, taken into account.
--5. Publicize results
and provide recognition not only for those results but also
for use of the good process.
compressed problem-solving approaches. Many organizations
have used “rapid” or “express”
models which employ pre-meeting data collection, extensive
co-processing and rigorous facilitation to accomplish
extraordinary results on complex problems in half-day
sessions. And finally . . .
--7. Make it fun! Every
study of creativity I’ve seen stresses the
correlation between having fun and the ability to think
outside the box. You, and your people, will find solutions
they might not otherwise have dreamed of.
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