And instead, there’s a communication gap within your team that’s leading to the mishandling of new customers and therefore lost sales. You might find that the idea that seemed the strongest will take longer than you thought to reverse a negative financial trend. Charles Conn is an alumnus of McKinsey’s Sydney office and is a board member of Patagonia and former CEO of the Rhodes Trust. Problem-solving can enable anybody to gain an edge over their peers and achieve more. Are there new entrants in your market? The key to effective problem-solving in business is the ability to adapt. You come up with a set of strong, data-driven ideas. Herbert Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1969. That’s Lean Planning. You’re going to need better problem solving strategies to cut through the ambiguity–that’s what. A lot of people would agree on the fact that life is full of challenges. Along the way, you’ll make strategic decisions that don’t pan out the way you hoped. There are a lot of ways to approach the issue when you’re facing a serious business problem. Great problem solvers are made, not born. Then find a way to present your logic visually so that the path to answers can be debated and embraced. Try broader crowdsourcing competitions to generate ideas. Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 ~ 3 min read. We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. When you face radical uncertainty, remember your four-year-old or channel the four-year-old within you. But they’re on a mission of discovery, and they’re determined to figure things out. You won’t know unless you model a few different scenarios. Be as proactive as you can. All good businesses solve some sort of problem for customers. It’s actually a gift if you can, The worst thing you can do when you’re facing challenges is isolating yourself from your customers and ignore your competition. Ashok Alexander, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s India Aids Initiative, provided a brilliant example of not just vision but also dragonfly vision. When you’re facing a roadblock, think back to the last time you did some solid market research or took a deep dive into, Market research and the insights you get from customer outreach aren’t a silver bullet. Put together a competitive matrix. Well in order to grow, —the process of revising your business strategy regularly—you’ll be able to shift your strategies more fluidly. What if your particular business problem is actually an opportunity, or even a strength if considered from a different angle? For instance, if you realize that your sales from new customers are dropping, your first inclination might be to rush into putting together a marketing plan to increase exposure. Unfortunately, we have truckloads of evidence showing that human beings aren’t good intuitive statisticians. The first stage of any problem solving process is to identify the problem or problems you might want to solve. 3 observed that “it’s a mistake to think that on your team you have the smartest people in the room. hereLearn more about cookies, Opens in new Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2016. Put together a. This article offers a really useful approach. That’s what we’ve found after decades of problem solving with leaders across business, nonprofit, and policy sectors. Think of this as widening the aperture on a problem or viewing it through multiple lenses. Our flagship business publication has been defining and informing the senior-management agenda since 1964. Structured problem solving strategies can be used to address almost any complex challenge in business or public policy. Learn about At the very least you’ll have better insight into the financial impact of moving in a different direction. Each move (such as buying IP or acquiring a component supplier) and each experiment (including on-road closed tests) not only provides additional information to make decisions but also builds capabilities and assets that support further steps. 1. The difference between the outstanding, world class performers and the average companies is how well they react to … Press enter to select and open the results on a new page. Rookie problem solvers show you their analytic process and mathematics to convince you that they are clever. You’re trying to make the best decision you can with the information you have. Can you quickly make adjustments? Why you need to make problem solving a skill. Effective problem solving strategies always begin by allowing a group scope to articulate what they believe the problem to be and then coming to some consensus over which problem they approach first. Although we don’t know exactly how their insect brains process all this visual information, by analogy they see multiple perspectives not available to humans. , the more often innovative solutions to the problems faced by the organization appear. They’re invariably somewhere else.” Most of the problem-solving teams we are involved with have twin dilemmas of uncertainty and complexity, at times combined as truly “wicked problems.” A mindset that encourages curiosity, embraces imperfection, rewards a dragonfly-eye view of the problem, creates new data from experiments and collective intelligence, and drives action through compelling show-and-tell storytelling creates radical new possibilities under high levels of unpredictability. Are you willing to change course? The key is to make sure you’re getting a full snapshot of what’s going on so you don’t waste money and resources on band-aid solutions. Welcome to the IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. It’s a lot easier to get a line of credit while your financials still look good and healthy, than when you’re one pay period away from ruin. When you start a small business or launch a startup, the one thing you can count on is the unexpected. Plus, your customers can be one of the best sources for criticism. to determine if that is in fact the case. And they’re good at it! People with high problem-solving ability often take a detailed view of the involved issues. Natural human biases in decision making, including confirmation, availability, and anchoring biases, often cause us to shut down the range of solutions too early. Are you willing to change course? The real benefit here is looking at different tactical approaches to the same problem. This article offers a really useful approach to making decisions. It was updated in 2020. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Become a bulletproof problem solver,” August 2019. It starts with putting your options into a matrix like this one: Use this sort of framework to put everything you’ve learned out on the table. That will encourage you to talk with customers, suppliers, or, better yet, players in a different but related industry or space. They aren’t there. No matter how thoroughly you plan, forecast, and test, problems are bound to arise. Home » Blog » 10 Problem-Solving Strategies that Work. The real world is highly uncertain. However, if you don’t thoroughly examine what led to the problem in the first place, you may create a strategy that doesn’t actually solve it. When Sir Rod Carnegie was CEO of Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA), he was concerned about the costs of unscheduled downtime with heavy trucks, particularly those requiring tire changes. These leaders learn to adopt a particularly open and curious mindset, and adhere to a systematic process for cracking even the most inscrutable problems. Guesses based on gut instinct can be wildly wrong. Fish stocks improve, and oysters can also be harvested to help make the economics work. Facing a complex social map with a rapidly increasing infection rate, he widened the problem’s definition, from a traditional epidemiological HIV transmission model at known “hot spots,” to one in which sex workers facing violence were made the centerpiece. 10) Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies: Delegate and Separate. so you can model different scenarios. The worst thing you can do when you’re facing challenges is isolating yourself from your customers and ignore your competition. If you’re working with a bigger team, this sort of exercise can also bring the rest of your team to the table so they feel some ownership over the outcome. That’s why a simple technique, worth employing at the beginning of problem solving, is simply to pause and ask why conditions or assumptions are so until you arrive at the root of the problem. , and test, problems are bound to arise. 9. And you can do the same. Are there any issues affecting your team? The best thing you can do is test your ideas and iterate often so you’re not wasting money and resources on things that don’t work. In the article “Four Essential Lessons from Companies Going out of Business”, I stated that one of the reasons why businesses fail is because the management turned blind eye to a problem or broken system. All rights reserved. You don’t want to change course every week, and you don’t want to fall victim to shiny object thinking. You need those, goals and milestones to make your plan real. Problem-solving starts when you start exploring each and every possibility of a problem.

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