Every organization faces challenges of various dimensions. The most profitable organizations are those that have become very good at finding good solutions quickly. Some employees within our organizations seem to have the “gift of discovery” which operates primarily in finding problems within the organization. They bring problems to the management team on a regular basis and expect the senior members of the organization to come up with solutions.

 Many times, the best solutions in an organization can be found at the lowest levels of the organization. If you notice that people within your organization bring problems to you on a regular basis, you could try the rule that Dr. John C. Maxwell instituted within his organization: Before anyone brings up any problem that he/she has identified, he/she must also bring along three alternate solutions. The result of this rule was that people brought fewer problems; and those who were brave and still brought up problems also came up with some of the best solutions.Before attempting to come up with solutions, it is highly recommended that we identity root causes of the problem. This is often described as doing an RCA (Root Cause Analysis). The following are the most common problem-solving steps in any arena:

         I.      Clearly define the problem in details using the “4W” rule: (Who?, What?, Where?, When?).
        II.      Identify the root cause, not the symptom.
       III.      Come up with at least 3 possible solutions.
       IV.      Select the best solution. (It’s possible and OK to miss the boat here).
        V.      Carefully plan out how to execute the solution.
       VI.      Execute the plan. It is believed that every unit of good planning prevents 5 units of re-work.
      VII.      Verify the results.
     VIII.      Take corrective action.

The only caution here is that we must not become plagued with analysis-paralysis! There might never be the perfect solution. It is sometimes OK to pull the trigger and then make corrective adjustments afterwards.
Author: Dr Joseph Amanfu, PMI Tallahassee Past President