he ability to solve complicated problems quickly is more important than ever in today’s tough economy. Here's another set of tips and reminders to help you solve messy problems quickly and easily.
** Identify and fix the right root causes.
Complicated problems have multiple root causes, probably more than you can fix in a reasonable amount of time. Don’t waste time or money on causes that are either insignificant in impact or only peripheral causes of the problem you’re trying to fix.
** Choose solutions that are effective—and implement the solution completely.
Identifying the right root causes is necessary, but unless you then implement a solution, you still have a problem. Double-check to be sure your solution plan really will eliminate the causes you’ve identified, and then execute the plan. It’s easy to get distracted by other projects once you get to the implementation phase and never finish.
** Reward prevention.
Although it’s generally understood that it costs more to deal with crises than to prevent them, many companies do not recognize and reward those who push past the symptoms to the root causes, preventing future occurrences. If you want to focus on prevention, be sure to reward those who do it successfully.
** Have the courage to say “no” when appropriate.
If you believe the problem can’t be solved in the time-frame allowed or with the resources available, your best option is to say so right away. Accepting an assignment that you believe is impossible is setting yourself up for failure. Do, however, choose your strategy for how you refuse to take on the project: gather evidence, explain what it will take to accomplish the desired results, etc.
** Meet your commitments.
Do what you promise and don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Meeting commitments strengthens relationships and builds trust. You need both to solve messy problems. If the situation changes and you do have to change a commitment, let everyone know as soon right away so they can make appropriate changes to their own plans.
copyright 2005. Jeanne Sawyer. All Rights Reserved.
Jeanne Sawyer is an author, consultant, trainer and coach who helps her clients solve expensive, chronic problems, such as those that cause operational disruptions and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. These tips are excerpted from her book, When Stuff Happens: A Practical Guide to Solving Problems Permanently. Find out about it, and get more free information on problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com/ .