Doers Are Natural Problem Solvers

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When you set out to resolve problems that are outside your sphere of influence, there is often no clear place to start. Unless a particular situation is begging for your attention, start by making a list of outcomes where the results failed to meet expectations.

Use the four-step, problem-solving guide as your template, filling in each section as the details emerge. Resist the urge to solve the problem until the investigation is complete.

Step I – Identify Cause

  1. Define precisely what went wrong.
  2. Gather data on what, where, when, and how it happened.
  3. Explore the factors that might have triggered the deviation.
  4. Select the most likely cause for the deviation.
  5. Test assumptions—is the problem likely to reoccur?

Step II – Develop Options

  1. Determine who “owns” the problem.
  2. Define expected desired results.
  3. Generate a list of workable options in priority order.
  4. Invite input from those impacted by the alternatives.
  5. Pick the solution most likely to work.

Step III – Implement Solution

  1. Seek out possible opposition to the action plan.
  2. Brainstorm potential threats to the decision.
  3. Determine the severity of each threat.
  4. Estimate the probability of a negative outcome.
  5. Clarify authority, responsibility, and reporting relationships.

Step IV – Evaluate Result

  1. Set timelines and measurements.
  2. Establish negative and positive incentives for compliance.
  3. Make sure that appropriate action was taken.
  4. Follow-up to see if the problem was resolved.
  5. Record the results.



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