Problem Solving Lifecycle

By Carol Campbell
Published on: February 15, 2019

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We all have problems. And I’m not talking about personal problems per se; let’s keep our discussion focused on business problems! I’ll keep this article brief, but I want to share how my team approaches problems – ones we know about and ones we expect to impact our business.

Define the problem. Whether you are making an adjustment to the marketplace or want to fix/update an internal process, the first thing to do is to define the problem/objective. My suggestion is to get internal feedback from the relevant players and write everything down or story-board it on a white board.

Unless you clearly define the problem, how else can you move forward? My team often comes up with solutions just by defining the problem. Everyone gets to give input so we hear everyone’s individual concerns and how the problem impacts their work.

What are the variables? Variables include competition, in-house talent, and more often than not, budget. So lay everything out before you ever start discussing solutions. What my team does is we sit around a white board and as we define the problem on the left-hand side, we then bring up variables that are going to impact any solution on the right-hand side.

Brainstorming potential solutions. Mo’ is betta’. That’s my motto. We try to get as much input from team members as possible. When you sit around and turn off your phones and disengage from email, the team can really focus on solutions. My advice is to clear the tables and let the team spend 30 minutes hashing out ideas and running down possible scenarios. That helps us create follow up to-do lists for things we have to research.

Interpret the results. As a wise man once said, “if you don’t measure it, its not real.” Once the team has come up with solutions and we’ve committed to a plan of action, we are simultaneously discussing how to measure the results and how those results will be analyzed so we’re not fooling ourselves.

For every action there is a reaction. A lot of this can be anticipated and baked into the plan. But without meaningful analytics about how effective any change you make is, you might end up just creating another problem for yourself down the road.

 

Carol Campbell

Carol Campbell

Carol Campbell is the Managing Director of the Technology Insider Group, Publisher of Technology Designer Magazine, and Executive Director of the Women in Consumer Technology association. She is a publishing, marketing and women’s thought leadership executive with a history of offering outstanding presentation, communication and cross-cultural team management skills.

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