____________________________________________________

Not speaking your language?


Problem-Solving Success Tip: Test Your Assumptions About Everything

Test your assumptions about everything.

Assumptions have a way of creeping into all parts of a problem-solving project. They're often wrong, which can lead to a lot of wasted effort and even cause a problem-solving project to fail entirely. It's very easy to take a strongly stated assertion as true, especially if it's the boss who makes it. Remind everyone involved to be skeptical and on the watch for untested assumptions.

Problem definition.

Check the facts first to be sure that you and your team understand the problem the same way, and that you have data to confirm that the problem is important. Testing assumptions about the problem definition could include interviewing participants, collecting measurements, creating flow charts of what really happened, etc.

Organizing your project.

Don't assume that the resources you need to solve the problem will automatically be available to you. Solving a messy problem is a project. Treat it that way by developing a project plan, obtaining sponsorship, getting commitment to participate from key players, etc.

Root Cause Analysis.

This is a favorite spot for untested assumptions to show up, especially if you use a root cause analysis method based on brainstorming. Once you've got a list of possible causes, be sure to collect data, devise tests or do whatever you have to verify which causes are real.

Choosing solutions.

Test assumptions about proposed solutions by answering the questions: "How likely is the approach to eliminate a root cause of this problem" and "How practical is this approach (do I have the resources to actually do it and can I achieve the solution in an appropriate amount of time)?"

Testing assumptions throughout the problem-solving process will greatly improve your chances of solving the right problem successfully.

There is nothing so deceptive as an apparent truth.
- Russell Ackoff

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/.




__________

Meetings and Road Trips

Managing a meeting is like setting off on a long car trip with friends or family. You need to plan your route, pay attention to... Read More

When Change Is In the Wind...Heads Up!

In these days of takeovers and mergers, of downsizings and lean management, chances are that you are going to be caught in a job upheaval... Read More

Five Steps to Better Employee Management

Hiring employees is a huge responsibility. Before hiring anyone, be sure to carefully analyze your needs in terms of extra assistance.Once you've gotten through the... Read More

How Your Business Can Pick A Software Developer

Eventually, your business is going to need to have some software development. Your business is unique - you can't rely on a huge, faceless corporation... Read More

Customer Focus - Just 5 SimpleThings You Need to Think About

You can boil down the difference between successful businesses and the rest in how they work with their customers, in just five areas.So, what does... Read More

Business Innovation ? Organizational Culture

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.There are other useful definitions... Read More

Dont Wait for Tax Time to Look at the Bottom Line

A curious thing happens to entrepreneurs in the spring of every year. They wake up one day and realize they had better figure out how... Read More