Often, when there are problems, people are so sure about what they think the problem is.  You may sometimes wonder…is this the problem or is this…a symptom?  It would be a good idea to incorporate a proven process for problem-solving that guarantees that a rational decision will be made by the team.

As a team member, we should insist on using a problem-solving formula. I think it is important that teams have an objective problem-solving model that will support good decision-making.

It is wise to make the first step a brainstorming session to fully discuss what the problem COULD be.  State what APPEARS to be the problem.  Start with a supposition that can later be confirmed or corrected.  It could be this?  Maybe it could be this?  What about this?  Have we considered this?  Possibly, is this the issue?

Once we have expressed every possible issue, concern, symptom, circumstance, cause, corollary, condition, consideration, or possible problem, it is now time to gather the facts, feelings, inferences, and opinions.

Discuss what is actually happening.  Review what we know for sure.  Fully explore who, what, when, where, how, and why.  Consider size, scope, and severity.  Who and what is affected?  Likely to happen again? Sort out the facts from the fiction.

Now it is time to restate the problem.  Try to identify the ONE problem that you are going to solve that will make all of the symptoms disappear.  It is likely not the first problem you thought of at the beginning.

Generate twenty to fifty ideas that could possibly solve the problem.  No criticism at this stage.  Go for quantity, not quality.  Many of these creative ideas won’t work today, but may be exactly the idea we need a month or year from now.

Evaluate alternatives based on what is reasonable, feasible, and financially affordable.  Implement the decision, evaluate the results, and modify your strategies.

So, sure to have a formula to follow.  Incorporate a little more brainstorming and open-mindedness throughout the process.  Fix the right problem and the symptoms will vanish.

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