Doers Are Natural Problem Solvers

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Doers are known for solving problems outside their formal sphere of influence. They find the problem solving guide that follows particularly helpful when dealing with unintended consequences and there is no clear place to start.

Put on your Doer hat and use the four-step guide as your template, filling in each section as the details emerge. Experienced Doers resist the urge to solve the problem until their 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.

The following example of a problem resulting in unintended consequences is meant to provide you with an opportunity to think and act like a Doer using the four step process outlined above:

  • A newly installed automated payroll system incorrectly treated a year-end bonus as a pay raise. This error pushed many employees into a higher tax bracket, triggering a deduction of back payroll taxes for the entire year from their next paycheck. Employees were astounded to receive $0.00 pay because the amount deducted was more than their bimonthly earnings. The direct deposit system was also thrown into chaos because it could not cope with zero as an amount.

2 comments

  1. J. Elizabeth Husby · · Reply

    Hi Tom,
    It was good to see you and Frank a few weeks ago ar Stravaganza! Hope I didn’t I teruot your conversation too much!
    Thank you for including me on your email. From my perspective your process is definitely through! After the fiasco at Wells Fargo they sure could have used your hypothesis to repair the problem:) !
    Look forward to other emails you might put forth, or another chance incounter at Stravaganza!
    Respectfully,
    J. Elizabeth Husby

    1. Sorry to be so long in responding. I just saw your post. Your words of encouragement are warmly welcomed. Thank you.

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