Strategic Problem Solving and Decision Making Approaches for Bringing Strategic Focus to Organizational Problem Solving and Decision Making
“No problem is so large or complex that it can’t be run away from.” — Charlie Brown “There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” — H. L. Mencken “The most common source of mistakes in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answers rather than the right question.” — Peter Drucker
The Challenges We Face Working by yourself . . . • Identify one or two unsolved challenges or problems facing the organization today, or one or two decisions that need to be made in the near future. • When you have completed your card, gather them at your tables and pass them to the trainer. Note: We’ll try to use some of the challenges, problems, or decisions you identify in today’s workshop.
Learning Objectives • Identify common obstacles to effective problem solving and decision making • Apply the principles of effective problem solving and decision making to real-life situations • Describe the seven-step model for strategic problem solving • Apply the strategic problem-solving model to a specific situation • Write a clear problem statement • Describe the seven-step model for strategic decision making • Discuss strategies and methods for involving diverse stakeholders in strategic problem solving and decision making
Morning Learning Agenda • Exploring our problem solving and decision making history • Identifying principles of problem solving and decision making • Describing two broad approaches to problem solving and decision making • Applying the problem-solving model
Afternoon Learning Agenda • Writing a problem statement • Applying the strategic decision-making model • Involving others in problem solving and decision making
Meet and Greet! • Introduce yourself to your table partners. • Share your personal objective(s) for the day. • As a group . . . identify some common goals/issues of interest. • Develop two or three questions about strategic problem solving and decision making that your group would like to have answered before the end of the day.
A Problem Is . . . an absence or void that remains until an appropriate response is found. A problem exists in situations where an individual or group fails to find an effective way to meet or fulfill a need of a person, group, community, or society.
A Decision Is . . . a choice made from among alternative solutions or options when faced with solving a problem, fulfilling an unmet need, or finding the best way to achieve a goal or an aspiration.
Our PSDM History On your own . . . • Identify an example in the organization in which problem solving or decision making went very well. Why did it go well? What were the consequences of its going well? • Identify an example in the organization in which problem solving or decision making did NOT go well. Why didn’t it go well? And what were the consequences of this less desirable result?
Our PSDM History As a small group . . . • Share your PSDM histories. • Identify trends or themes in successful PSDM. What were some causes of good PSDM outcomes? What were the consequences? • Identify trends or themes for unsuccessful PSDM. What were the causes? What were the consequences?
Seven Breakthrough-Thinking Principles for PSDM 1. Approach each problem for its uniqueness. 2. Define your purpose. 3. Explore the “solution after next.” 4. Use systems thinking. 5. Limit your data gathering. 6. Involve diverse perspectives. 7. Revisit the solution, the problem, and the solution after next.
The Seven Principles of Breakthrough Thinking On your own . . . • Which principle does this organization do a pretty good job of practicing in its approach to decision making and problem solving? • Which principle does this organization tend not to practice?
The Seven Principles of Breakthrough Thinking In your small group, discuss . . . • Which principle the organization tends to follow and practice. • Which principle the organization tends NOT to follow or practice. • For the principle identified in the second question, identify actions that individuals could take to increase the use/application of this principle throughout the organization.
Approaches to PSDM • Intuitive Approach — Solving a problem through intuition, insight, “gut” feelings, and divergent thinking • Rational/Analytical Approach — Solving a problem through a formally structured, systematic, methodical, and scientific process.
When to Use Each Approach In your small group, for your assigned approach, . . . • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of this approach. • Identify when to use and NOT use each approach.
A Problem-Solving Model 1. Select and define the problem. • Narrow the problem • Identify whom to involve 2. Define desired outcomes, higher purpose and measurement. • Identify measures of success 3. Identify potential causes. 4. Identify potential roadblocks. 5. Identify actions to address causes. 6. Develop an action plan. 7. Implement, monitor, evaluate, and revise.
Factors That Influence the Problem-Solving Process • Who was involved (and the knowledge level of the problem) • What information you had available to you • Time available • Experience with or knowledge of the problem • Group dynamics • Group size • Problem solving history as a group • ???
Your Imagination Quotient • What is your IQ? • Work as a team to solve these “out-of-the-box” puzzlers. • Work quickly to be the first group to complete the IQ quiz.
It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem. — Malcolm ForbesU.S. business leader
Writing the Problem Statement • State the problem objectively. Focus on the facts: what is known vs. what is assumed. • Address the questions: What isn’t working? What isn’t right? Why is this an issue we need to pay attention to? • Avoid impliedcauses and implied solutions • Narrow the scope of the problem • Identify the relationship of the problem to other problems • Develop a sharedvision of the problem • Develop a sharedvision of the outcome
Sample Problem Statements The executive leadership group makes decisions and takes actions that run counter to the recommendations of frontline staff. We’re not achieving specific performance outcomes or results. Employees at every level of the organization aren’t meeting their quality and productivity goals.
Sample Problem Statements How can we improve product quality and employee productivity in our manufacturing process? Our new product rollout failed to meet our sales targets for three of the last four quarters. New employees (ages 19–25) tend to express higher levels of frustration with the organization’s career paths.
The Decision-Making Process 1. Define the decision you want to make. • Narrow the decision • Identify whom to involve 2. Define your desired outcomes, strategic objectives, and higher purpose. • Identify measures of success • Sort out your musts and wants, rank-ordering wants from most to least and assigning values (1–10) to each 3. Identify decision alternatives and options. 4. Select the best alternative. 5. Identify potential roadblocks/setbacks. 6. Develop an action/implementation plan. 7. Implement the plan, monitor progress, and revise the plan.
The decision to make . . . The options . . . The Must criteria To be considered, the option MUST pass each of the must criteria The Want criteria Ranking the Wants . . Adding up all of the “want” totals equals the overall value of the option. Total = rank x value How well each satisfies the want 5 40 8
Involving Others • When is it desirable to involve others? • When might it not be as desirable or appropriate to involve others?
Involving Others I decide Autocratic We decide Democratic You decide Empowered
Involving Others Participation is important because 1. It increases the likelihood of defining the problem/decision correctly and understanding the context of the problem/decision—including the underlying causes—and identifying critical must/wantneeds. 2. It can powerfully and positively influence the level of commitment to the decision or solution in those asked to implement the decision or solution.
Thank You! • Integrate the principles of problem solving and decision making into your daily practice. • Apply the problem-solving model to your everyday situations. • Practice the decision-making model and use the decision matrix to help define your decision requirements. • Reflect on the opportunities and strategies for involving others in PSDM.