Every problem is unique, this is true, but problem solving doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Effective business problem solving is something that can be mastered by following a simple, methodical approach.
At Analyze, we have a proven 5 step process for effective problem solving:
- Understand the problem
We’ve seen many examples where businesses have jumped straight into solution mode without any success. It boils down to one key consideration: If you can’t explain what the problem is, you can’t begin to solve it.Let’s take a practical example: Sales figures are unusually low. Some questions you may want to kick off with include: How long has this been a problem? How was the problem identified? Who are the key players? And what are the downstream impacts?
- Define the root cause
You’ve probably heard the saying: “treat the problem, not the symptom”. Doctors like to use that line a lot, but it’s actually very solid advice. Once you’ve identified the problem and you understand its symptoms, take a few steps back to identify the root cause.If we take our example from step 1, you’ll find that the root cause for low sales figures could be anything from competitor behaviour, to team morale/low incentive, or even technology factors which are hindering the sales process.
- Identify possible solutions
Don’t settle for the first solution that’s identified. The more solutions you consider, the better your chances of finding the right fit.We believe that business solutions must always consider the people, process and technology aspects of solving the problem. It is seldom that technology alone can solve a business problem.Brainstorming is a powerful technique for generating ideas as it provides a platform for your team to apply their specific skills and knowledge to the problem. It’s important, however, to try and include people with different functional expertise and from different levels within the business to ensure that you’re tackling the problem from all possible angles.
- Implement the solution that gives you the most “bang for your buck”
It’s tempting to go for the cheapest or quickest option, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best one for your business. On the flipside, it’s also important not to overcomplicate things.Weigh up the pros and cons of each option identified during your brainstorming session, then rank them according to how well it addresses the root cause. Discuss and agree on the best option and ensure that you get complete buy-in from all relevant parties.
- Define success & monitor results
You need to be clear about how you’ll identify whether the problem has been resolved. Then monitor results on an ongoing basis to ensure that you’re on track.If at any time you realise that your chosen solution has resulted in unexpected issues, or is not meeting your desired results, stop work immediately and go back to the drawing board.
In summary: Take enough time to properly evaluate a problem before taking any action. Careful consideration is the key to avoiding unnecessary spend and ensuring better results.
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