How good is your company at solving problems?
That’s the rhetorical question addressed in a Harvard Business Review article titles, Are You Solving the Right Problems?
The authors believe managers, spurred by a penchant for action, tend to switch quickly into solution mode without first making sure they really understand the problem. Can you relate? I know I’m guilty as charged.
The article offers what the authors believe are the seven best practices for effectively reframing problems:
- Establish legitimacy — get agreement to utilize the reframing method.
- Bring outsiders into the discussion — choose someone who will speak freely.
- Get people’s definitions in writing — Have you ever left a meeting thinking everyone agrees with the loose oral description, and found out later that they don’t?
- Ask what’s missing — make sure you ask explicitly what has not been captured or mentioned.
- Consider multiple categories — identify specifically what category of problem (i.e., incentive, expectation, attitude, etc.) the group is facing.
- Analyze positive expectations — what’s different about this situation?
- Question the objective — pay attention to the objectives of each party involved, first clarifying and then challenging them.
Although this article may seem a little academic, I would highly recommend reading it. As I have already admitted, I love jumping in and solving the problem — and, at times, I’ve missed the mark. This article provided advice that would have saved me time and embarrassment in the past.