Choose solutions that are effective—and implement the solution completely. The solution phase is where everything gets tied together and you start to get results. This part of solving problems is straight-forward in concept but not necessarily easy to do. Choose a solution strategy that works, i. e. , fixes the right problem and is practical for your situation. Then implement the strategy-completely.
Because you’ve defined the problem carefully, identified the root causes and verified them, you know what the problem is and why it occurs. You’ve also assessed the impact of each of the causes, so you know which causes to focus on.
Solving the problem requires eliminating each of the root causes that are important enough to bother with. Take each of them one at a time. Decide how you will eliminate that cause and write down your action plan: the tasks that need to be done, who is responsible, when they’re due and completion criteria that will tell you when each task is complete. Cross-check your action plans to be sure:
When the action plan for a particular cause is completed, the cause will be eliminated,
When all your action plans are completed, you will achieve the success criteria for the whole problem,
Your contingency plans are sufficient to deal with any surprises.
Double-check to be sure your solution plan really will eliminate the causes you’ve identified. This is a good time to apply the motto, Everything necessary, nothing extraneous. Make sure each action plans includes everything necessary to eliminate the cause it is focused on. Eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to eliminating that cause.
Then execute the plan. Implementing the plans will take your best project management skills to keep everything on track. This is the time when you and your colleagues are most at risk of getting distracted by other projects. Don’t let your action plan join the list of good intentions.
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. Now also an ebook, find out about it and get more free information on problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com/ .