There’s nothing worse than getting a group of smart people together to solve a problem and having the discussion devolve into chaos. This usually happens when people are at different stages of the problem-solving process. To get everyone on the same page, take a methodical approach and conquer one step at a time. First, ask: Does the team genuinely understand the problem it’s trying to solve? If you can’t clearly articulate it, draft a succinct problem statement. If the group understands the problem, but hasn’t yet produced a set of potential solutions, concentrate on generating as many quality options as possible. If you already have solutions, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and develop a list of pros and cons. Then you can use your time together to do the often difficult work of choosing a solution — and make sure that the final decision is in writing. The last stage, once you’ve selected the solution, is to develop an implementation plan. While conquering just one problem-solving stage at a time may feel a bit underwhelming at first, this methodical approach will often help the group leapfrog ahead, sometimes to the end of the problem-solving cycle.
This tip is adapted from “Why Groups Struggle to Solve Problems Together,” by Al Pittampalli
Categories: Management and Career Tips