PROBLEM-SOLVING is your ability to analyze, overcome obstacles, and uncover the BEST solution to resolve problems to accomplish your employer’s goals.
This is done through the skillful use of the Problem-Solving Process (PSP), critical thinking, creative reasoning, collaboration, decision-making tools, and consensus building.
Extracted from The Effectiveness Guide:
It’s impossible to make anything foolproof because
fools are so very ingenious.
This site will help you enhance your ability to resolve problems!
In real life, there are countless problems waiting for you to resolve. It’s about making choices that range from the mundane to the life-changing. The most important first step is to accurately identify the real problem, rather than the symptom of the problem. Then you’ll gather all the facts and make any needed assumptions. Now, you’ll list all your possible solutions by Brainstorming. You’ll now need to test your possible solutions using Screening and Evaluative Criteria.
Then you’ll select (Decision Making) the BEST solution among competing alternatives, but you’re not done yet. You still need to create your Plan of Action (POA), implement your Plan of Action (POA), and then assess process and results. Sounds easy, but it’s not.
Most people make serious decisions based on their emotions or a gut feeling. This normally turns out to be a mistake – especially when they begin to see and live with the results.
Here are a few suggestions on how to enhance your ability to resolve problems.
Effective people prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Years ago, I asked my wrestling coach how I could counter a wrestling move, and I’ll never forget his answer. He said, “Don’t get into that situation to begin with – don’t let your opponent use that particular move on you.” The best way to prevent problems is to not put yourself in that situation in the first place.
How do you do that? Have you ever delegated a project to a team member, only to find out later that he didn’t fully understand what you asked him to do? If not, you will. This is why it’s important to have a Corrective Action, Preventive Action (or CAPA) program.
Effective people know that CAPA improves their unit’s processes by eliminating the causes of problems. It focuses on the systematic investigation of the root causes of problems to prevent the occurrence (Preventive Action – before the fact), or recurrence (Corrective Action – after the fact). To ensure Corrective and Preventive Actions are effective, the systematic investigation of the root causes of problems is critical. How can you avoid most if not all your future problems and mistakes? Keep reading!
A mistake or defect is not a problem if you identify
and resolve it before your leader discovers it.
Preventive Actions are implemented in response to potential root-causes of problems. What systems do you have in place to catch problems before they leave your unit?
Use Preventive Actions
Preventive Actions are actions planned and conducted 30-60-90 days in advance of a project’s start, added to the project’s time table, to identify and resolve problems early on to enhance the success of a project.
Preventive Actions are designed to identify all the Pre-Problems (mistakes, defects, short-falls, omissions, and errors) before they become problems. Rehearsals are powerful. What do you need to physically see, test, or practice a few days before you start? Do you need to preview or rehearse anything before the event/activity? Who is reviewing documents, correspondence, or handouts to see if they make sense and are correct? Even criminals have rehearsals. Learn more from the Planning Page.
Warning: Don’t ask if everything is okay or if they’re ready. Just say, I want to see it! What’s stopping you? If you fail to use these Preventive Actions, do so at your own peril.
ELEVATE Problems You Can’t Resolve
What about problems you Can’t Resolve? Have you ever run into a brick wall trying to solve a problem? Most folks have. Here’s an idea. When you encounter a problem that’s beyond your ability or resources to solve, elevate it to your leader, ASAP! Elevate your problems! Don’t let your fear or pride stop you from asking your leader for help. This is done primarily because your leader has more resources than you do. By elevating the problem to his leader, he can modify the project, assign the problem (or a portion) to someone else, or assign more resources to you to solve the problem.
Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness;
it’s a SIGN OF STRENGTH.
Also, if you fail to elevate, and the project goes bad, you’ll have committed the Sin of Omission, which is failing to do or say what you should have. Your credibility, not to mention your reputation, will be damaged.
What if you Can’t Complete your Project?
As soon as you determine you can’t fulfill a project, your duty bound to tell your leader, As Soon As Possible (ASAP). He’s counting on you to deliver. If you’re not available at that time or you feel you don’t have the ability or resources, tell your leader! Don’t just blindly accept the project when you know you can’t deliver. Can you fulfill all you’re being asked or expected to do? If not, speak up!
If you can’t be there at the time the project starts, ensure you have your #2-Person or a trusted team member to fill in for you until you return. Don’t drop a project or problem on your leader at the last minute. Prepare someone else to take over for you. Let your leader know all your Unresolved Issues and changes, as they occur – before you become overwhelmed. You don’t want to surprise or let your leader down.
If you run into a problem you can’t solve, tell your leader immediately and recommend what needs to be done to resolve it. If you, or your team, ever become overwhelmed by a project, pause, take a deep breath, and ask your leader for help.
Ask your leader for an extension, to modify/negotiate/alter the scope of the project, that additional resources be assigned to complete the project, or that some tasks be either canceled, reassigned, rescheduled, or postponed. Give your leader options of thing that could help.
What if one of your Team Member is Sick or has a Family Emergency?
If one of your team members can’t participate at the last moment before a project starts (death in the family or auto accident), find out what tasks have been completed and what tasks remain undone. Armed with this knowledge, pass this to another team member. To ensure everything else gets done, always retain your Flexibility to Respond. The important thing here is to ensure someone else is assigned to pick up where the previous person left off. Flexibility to Respond is the leader’s freedom of action to check on what’s happening, to identify and resolve problems, to remain responsive to his leader, to conduct his leader only inherent duties, and to respond in case a team member needs help. The leader must be free to roam and reposition his members, equipment, money, or supplies to where they’re needed most. Being a leader means being on site prior to the execution to supervise, direct, and resolve problems.
What if a Team Member is Struggling?
Ever have a project go bad? We all have! Some things may not get done the way they were planned. So, what do you do? True failure only occurs if you give up! So, hang in there and do your best! Most bad things that happen are undesirable outcomes or learning experiences, but not failures. Besides, there are plenty of members involved to ensure things don’t get too far off track. If things don’t arrive on time, ask your team member for an explanation. Hold him accountable. He needs to find the answer, not you. Don’t let him off the hook. How will he resolve this shortfall? Let him figure it out.
If your Team Member fails – YOU FAILED!
Ask him to create a POA to resolve the problem and Backbrief you on his plan. But, don’t perform this task for him. Let him struggle. Struggle is good! He won’t develop his skills if you do his job.
Effective leader’s resist the urge to immediately
resolve their member’s problems.
After your team member has done all he can do, coach him through the solution, but don’t take it from him and do it yourself. And, occasionally, someone who has come through in the past, will drop-the-ball on a project. It happens. And, if it does, remember we’re all volunteers in this great game called life. The personal relationship is more important than the project. Few mistakes endanger life or cause serious financial loss. This too shall pass. Learn from your mistakes and get better every day.
All this is good, but what can you do to correct problems once they’re identified?
Effective people know that Corrective Actions are actions implemented in response to problems like customer complaints, problems identified during an internal audit, or adverse or unstable trends in product and process monitoring. What systems (processes, procedures, or checks) do you have in place to correct problems once identified? Here are a few suggestions.
Conduct a Problem Resolution Meeting
A Problem Resolution Meeting (PRM) is designed to address emergencies and serious problems that just surfaced. To make good decisions, you need good information. Separate facts from opinions and speculation. A fact is verifiable or vetted information.
During any PRM, seek good answers to these questions:
Assess the Situation:
- What’s the situation and how do we know for sure?
- Tell me what you know and tell me what you don’t know
- Tell me what you think? What’s your best hunch?
- What’s your intuition telling you?
- What are our risks (danger or vulnerability)?
- Any fatalities, injuries, or property loss/damage?
- What caused it to happen? (Root-cause)
- Do we have someone on the ground?
- What are our facts and assumptions?
Inform your Leader:
- Who else needs to know what we’re doing (chain-of-authority, family members)?
- Who else can help? (Fire, police, medical, legal, PR, etc.)
Determine your Options: Use the Problem-Solving Process.
- What are all our Options? Brainstorm
- Do they pass the Common-Sense Test?
- What are their advantages and disadvantages?
- How much time do we have and how much time do we need?
- Do we have what we need (any shortfalls)?
- When is it too late? Once we decide, how will it take to act?
Select the Best Options:
- Which option is best?
- Do we have consensus? If not, why?
Create a Plan of Action:
- What’s our Plan of Action? Who does what, when, where, and how?
- What tasks need to be accomplished? Who’s In-Charge?
- What are the Unintended Consequences and 2d and 3d Order Effects?
- Do we need to set up an Operations Center until this is over?
- Who else should we be talking to? (Legal, disaster recovery, insurance, etc.)
- Who has faced this situation before?
- When do we meet again to reassess this situation?
Take Decisive Action!
- Give new instructions to team members
- Supervise the execution to ensure the problem is resolved (how ensure this never happens again)
- Follow through with your leader
Reassess the Situation:
Return and Report the situation to your leader and explain what needs to be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again: Ensure you keep a documented Timeline of what happened and when it happened for investigative/legal purposes later.
Use the “Essence of a Finding”
The Essence of a Finding here refers to something that was identified to be a problem that needs to be corrected. The Essence of a Finding is a systematic process of documenting, tracking, and following up on problems to ensure they ALL get resolved. Don’t let problems slip-thru-the-crack (get forgotten or lost).
The most important components of an Essence of a Finding are:
- Problem #2214: for tracking
- Standard: What is the standard?
- Condition: What was found or observed?
- Cause: What is the root cause of this condition?
- Effect: What is the risk, danger, or vulnerability of this condition?
- Recommendation: What needs to be done to mitigate or eliminate the root-cause?
- Action: Who, what, when, where, why to correct the problem?
Corrective Actions, Preventive Actions (CAPA) should be part of your overall Quality Management System (QMS). Delegate these actions and review them during your weekly meetings.
To be continued: If you’d like to learn more about enhancing your ability to RESOLVE PROBLEMS, you can do so by adding this book to your professional library, today!
YOUR GUIDE TO
Here you’ll learn these skills:
CHAPTER 1: BY KNOWING HOW PROBLEMS ARE RESOLVED
CHAPTER 2: BY FINDING THE CAUSE OF PROBLEMS
CHAPTER 3: BY GATHERING RELEVANT INFORMATION
CHAPTER 4: BY FINDING ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
CHAPTER 5: BY TESTING POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
CHAPTER 6: BY SELECTING THE BEST SOLUTION
CHAPTER 7: BY PREVENTING PROBLEMS
CHAPTER 8: BY CORRECTING PROBLEMS
CHAPTER 9: BY ELEVATING PROBLEMS YOU CAN’T RESOLVE
CHAPTER 10: BY MAKING BETTER DECISIONS
CHAPTER 11: BY USING DECISION-MAKING TOOLS
CHAPTER 12: BY HELPING YOUR LEADER DECIDE
CHAPTER 13: BY OVERCOMING DECISION-MAKING OBSTACLES
CHAPTER 14: BY ANTICIPATING & EMBRACING CHANGE
CHAPTER 15: BY DEALING WITH AMBIGUITY
CHAPTER 16: BY USING CHANGE CONTROL PROCEDURES
CHAPTER 17: BY MAKING CHANGES TO YOUR PROJECT
CHAPTER 18: BY CONDUCTING REHEARSALS
APPENDIX A: GLOSSARY OF TERMS
APPENDIX B: REAL WORLD PROBLEM-SOLVING EXAMPLE
APPENDIX C: ADVANCE PROBLEM-SOLVING WITH VUCA
APPENDIX D: DON’T FORGET NOTHIN!
This is your chance to invest in your copy of this book – guaranteed to make you a more effective PROBLEM-SOLVER tomorrow than you are today.
Or, you can take advantage of our Special Offer below.
To SAVE 80%, purchase The Effectiveness Guide, which contains all 10 Core Competencies, instead of buying each separately.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
CHAPTER 1: BY BECOMING A BETTER FOLLOWER
CHAPTER 2: BY BECOMING A BETTER DELEGATOR
CHAPTER 3: BY BECOMING A BETTER PLANNER
CHAPTER 4: BY BECOMING A BETTER ORGANIZER
CHAPTER 5: BY BECOMING A BETTER COMMUNICATOR
CHAPTER 6: BY BECOMING A BETTER PROBLEM SOLVER
CHAPTER 7: BY ENHANCING YOUR AWARENESS
CHAPTER 8: BY BECOMING A BETTER TRAINER
CHAPTER 9: BY ENHANCING YOUR ABILITY TO MOTIVATE
CHAPTER 10: BY ENHANCING YOUR CHARACTER
APPENDIX A: PLAN OF ACTION EXAMPLE
APPENDIX B: REAL WORLD PROBLEM SOLVING EXAMPLE
APPENDIX C: ADVANCE PROBLEM SOLVING WITH VUCA
APPENDIX D: CAREER ADVICE
APPENDIX E: CREATING MISSION AND VISION STATEMENTS
The Effectiveness Guide will be the best investment you’ll ever make in your career.
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