Tip #746: How to Make Sure It’s the Right Decision

On November 5, 2018, Posted by , In management and leadership, By ,,, , With Comments Off on Tip #746: How to Make Sure It’s the Right Decision

Passion provides purpose, but data drives decisions.” Andy Dunn

I’ve taught classes in problem solving with a focus on finding the real cause or root of the problem, since the obvious problem is rarely the problem. Depending on the nature of the problem, quality improvement tools, such as the is/is not matrix, 6 whys, ishikawa or cause and effect diagram, and top down flow chart, have been very useful. I’ve also taught classes in decision making, with a focus on different ways for groups to vote on different alternatives. I have not taught classes in how to objectively determine the best alternative solutions prior to that final vote.

Now I find that there are numerous ways to analyze options. … Read the rest

Tip #699: Overlooking the Simple Answer

On November 28, 2017, Posted by , In learning, By ,, , With Comments Off on Tip #699: Overlooking the Simple Answer

“It’s very satisfying to take a problem we thought difficult and find a simple solution.”  Ivan Sutherland

I could kick myself. I love to do Sudoku, particularly the jigsaw puzzles. To complete them, I have to look at each section from every possible perspective. It is always a joy when the missing numbers are right there, in front of my eyes.

The reason I could just kick myself is because my life would be so much easier and much less stressful if I only looked at every situation the same way. I would save myself so much wasted time and energy if I just realized that there is probably a simple answer.

Technological issues are the worst, because I always … Read the rest

Tip #662: Getting to the Root of a Problem

On March 14, 2017, Posted by , In management and leadership, By ,,,,, , With Comments Off on Tip #662: Getting to the Root of a Problem
“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” Anthony J. D’Angelo
There are many reasons why solutions to problems are often ineffective, such as the fact that they:

1.     address symptoms rather than the real problem.

2.     are based on insufficient or inaccurate information.

3.     are made for subjective rather than objective reasons.

4.     are made for the sake of expediency.

5.     fix only one part of a larger problem.

6.     are based on the wrong root cause.

7.     are unrealistic.

8.     are the wrong solutions for the real problem.

9.     do not consider all of the contributing factors.

10.  are beyond the scope of those who have to implement them.

11.   solve the

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Tip #659:  Generating Ideas with SCAMPER

On February 21, 2017, Posted by , In management and leadership, By ,,, , With Comments Off on Tip #659:  Generating Ideas with SCAMPER

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” Linus Pauling

Whenever there is a need to generate ideas, brainstorming inevitably comes to mind. But there is another method called SCAMPER that puts a spin on brainstorming. SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse.

You go down the list, using each of the words as a prompt for questions to brainstorm, when you want to come up with new ideas to develop or improve a product, process, service or even people.

As with any brainstorming session, some of the answers may not be possible or useful. However, SCAMPER provides a format that can generate more answers than … Read the rest

Tip #610: Question-Storming

On February 29, 2016, Posted by , In learning activities, By ,,,,, , With Comments Off on Tip #610: Question-Storming

“One does not begin with answers. One begins by asking, ‘What are our questions?’ ” Peter Drucker

Brainstorming is a familiar and convenient problem-solving activity. We like it because each idea sparks another one and, since no idea is unacceptable, the more bizarre ideas can generate breakthrough solutions.

Brainstorming sessions challenge the participants to come up with creative ideas. However, there are two potential drawbacks to using brainstorming:

  1. It can generate a lot of pressure on the participants to produce ideas.
  1. If there is strong peer pressure, the participants can be influenced to  come up with obvious responses rather than free associate.

There is an alternative that satisfies the desire for collaborative thinking and problem solving without these negative consequences.… Read the rest

Tip #376: How to Provide Constructive Criticism

On May 11, 2011, Posted by , In communication, By ,,,,,,, , With Comments Off on Tip #376: How to Provide Constructive Criticism

“Criticism should be a casual conversation. W. H. Auden

A win/win problem-solving model for providing constructive criticism can be used to effectively discuss and resolve disagreements in coaching, performance appraisal, conflict resolution, and general feedback sessions. This model is particularly effective for individuals who are uncomfortable expressing conflict, criticism, or anger.

There are three major reasons for the effectiveness of the following win/win problem-solving model. First, it begins with a supportive statement, which makes it easier to initiate the conversation. Second, it establishes a mutual problem- solving dialogue, which is a more comfortable form of communication. Third, it places the focus on the problem, which directs it away from the individuals involved.

1. Begin with a supportive or neutral Read the rest