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Building Leadership Skills: Problem-Solving and Decision-Making. An Infopeople Workshop Presented by Joan Frye Williams Not All Decisions Require Equal Attention. Decision Insurance. Define the problem Gather additional data Lay it all out Identify your options

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Building leadership skills problem solving and decision making

Building Leadership Skills:Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

An Infopeople Workshop

Presented by Joan Frye Williams

Decision insurance
Decision Insurance

  • Define the problem

  • Gather additional data

  • Lay it all out

  • Identify your options

  • Evaluate your options

  • Make your decision

  • Move forward

Step 1 define the problem
Step #1:Define the Problem

  • What?

  • Where?

  • How?

  • When?

  • With whom?

  • Why?

For a complex problem
For a Complex Problem

  • Break it down

  • Verify with others

  • Prioritize

Describe the desired outcome s
Describe the Desired Outcome(s)

Define the solved state:

Here’s what should be happening…

Identify specific measurable goals
Identify Specific, Measurable Goals

What are we trying to

  • Achieve?

  • Preserve?

  • Avoid?

  • Eliminate?

Link back to the big picture
Link Back to the Big Picture

Make sure your desired outcomes align clearly with the library’s mission and strategic plan

Reality check decision politics
Reality Check:Decision Politics

  • Who are the stakeholders in this situation?

  • What will they need to get out of any decision?

  • How and when should they participate in finding a solution?

Step 2 gather additional data
Step #2:Gather Additional Data

  • Broad

  • Objective

  • Verifiable

  • Relevant


  • Hearsay/rumor

  • Opinion

  • Wishful thinking

  • Labeling the problem

  • Blaming/scapegoating

  • Vivid but minor evidence

Don t overlook
Don’t Overlook

  • Your own beliefs and biases

  • Your own (possible) role in the situation

Just be sure you cover the bases
Just Be Sure YouCover the Bases

  • Bouncing around is natural

  • More information may accrue over time

Step 3 lay it all out
Step #3:Lay It All Out

Pareto analysis
Pareto Analysis

  • “80/20 rule”

  • Focus on numerical data

  • Use to identify

    which situations are most common

Mind mapping
Mind Mapping

  • Free-form note taking

  • Any kind of information

  • Use to show how different facts relate to the problem

    and to each other

Look into causes but don t bog down
Look into Causes but Don’t Bog Down

  • Not all problems are “caused”

  • Not all causes can be corrected

    Ask for input – one person at a time.

The un problem appreciative inquiry
The Un-Problem:Appreciative Inquiry

  • Systematic discovery of the best in people and organizations

  • Unconditional positive questions

  • Directed conversation and storytelling

  • What is working well?

  • How can we do more of that?

Step 4 identify your options
Step #4:Identify Your Options

  • What options do we have?

  • What has been done in other libraries?

  • In other disciplines?

  • How about something new?

Situation something s gone wrong
Situation:Something’s Gone Wrong

  • Find and correct the changes that account for the fall-off in results.

Situation increased or changing expectations
Situation:Increased – or Changing – Expectations

  • Find new ways of operating.

Situation the double whammy
Situation:The Double Whammy

  • Find ways to reengineer the system – correct and invent.

Situation it never did work right
Situation:It Never Did Work Right

  • Find ways to overhaul – or completely rebuild.

Things that can limit your thinking
Things That Can Limit Your Thinking

  • Searching for THE ONE RIGHT ANSWER

  • Not involving front line people

  • Looking inside the library only

  • Waiting for 100% agreement

  • Fear of embarrassment or failure

Be sure to include
Be Sure to Include

  • Current approach

  • Something new

  • Something fun

Step 5 evaluate your options
Step #5:Evaluate Your Options

Swot strengths weaknesses opportunities threats pmi plus minus interesting
SWOT: Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – ThreatsPMI:Plus – Minus - Interesting

Think through risks and consequences
Think Through Risks and Consequences

  • Reversible?

  • Pilot-able?

  • Timely?

  • Politically sensitive?

Special challenges in many library environments
Special Challenges in Many Library Environments

  • Perfectionism

  • Catastrophizing

  • Mixed feelings about success

Step 6 make your decision
Step #6:Make Your Decision

Reality check strategic thinking
Reality Check:Strategic Thinking

  • How might this decision change the library’s position or reputation?

  • Will it set the stage or define a pattern for future decisions?

  • Do library stakeholders need a heads-up?

  • Who will get credit if things turn out well?

Step 7 move forward
Step #7:Move Forward

  • Communicate the decision/solution

  • Plan the implementation

  • Monitor results

  • Learn as you go

When things go wrong
When Things Go Wrong

  • Work each problem

  • Re-prioritize if necessary

  • Maintain focus on desired outcomes

  • After a fair trial, change options