Problem Framing and Problem Solving

One of the biggest mishaps Strategic Management Consulting’s consultants see; is organisations jumping to conclusions about what they are trying to rectify and how they are going to rectify it. Many times, we have seen senior management jump to conclusions that costs need to be cut to balance the profit and loss statements. But maybe this isn’t the problem, maybe more revenue needs to be generated through sales and marketing channels. Sometimes all it comes down to is how the problem is framed and what mind frame managers have towards the problem.

Biases are a major problem in organisations, we see it all the time. Senior managers and department managers get bogged down in a routine and way of approaching a problem that it becomes second nature and they automatically apply it to the challenge; even if it requires something completely different.

Strategic Management Consulting’s consultants apply a logical framework to assist in identifying the right problem and solution. SMC investigate the following areas:

  1. Objectives

A list of objectives for the firm should be identified, with focus around the challenge that is being faced. Which ones add the most value?

  1. Facts

Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? Listing out each of these helps provide different fact perspectives to the challenge. Identifying questions against each of the categories to frame the facts is a helpful step our consultants apply.

  1. Problems

Identifying all the problems through brainstorming sessions and boundary examination helps to identifying whether some of the problems are linked and reframe each of the components of the problem. This helps tease out solutions and opportunities for each component.

  1. Ideas

Mind mapping ideas and asking questions for each category provides insights into getting to the root cause of the problem as well. Each idea should then be categorised into their usability within the organisation and whether it needs to be explored further.

At this stage, the final problem statement should be finessed.

  1. Solutions

Brainstorming is employed here, bringing together all the data that had previously been gathered to ensure they are aligned. Once a range of solutions are put forward, SMC identify driving forces for and against each solution and quantify them to identify which solutions to move forward with.

  1. Acceptance

SMC like to use analysis tools such as the CHIPS framework to identify the driving forces for acceptance from each stakeholder.

Stakeholders should be engaged at all levels of the process, but the final acceptance typically comes from department heads and stakeholders with the most power and influence.

As we go through each of these steps, we might change the problem statement slightly. Adding or removing elements through until the final stage until our consultants and clients believe it is the right problem that needs to be addressed.

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