For some office workers, everyday working life doesn't seem to consist of anything else: solving problems. The most important thing: just start somewhere. The best way to do this is with a checklist like a CIA agent.
- Step 1: Get to know what the task is
- Step 2: Determine the value of the problem
- Step 3: Analyze the problem
- Step 4: Work out solution alternatives
- Step 5: Choose an alternative
- Step 6: Set up an action plan
- Step 7: Check the results
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Step 1: Get to know what the task is
In fact, regardless of the specific task, the ability to identify and eliminate problems is a key skill.
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First of all, it would be good to pause. It is important to recognize the real problem. For example, your problem could be the decision be between two employees for the post of project manager. In essence, however, it is not about the personnel issue, but about clarifying how the project can be carried out quickly, cheaply and successfully can be edited.
The Five-Time-Why Method
Often it is - as just said - very different reasons that lead to problems, as one would assume at first. Experience has shown that you have to ask about five times why, until you get to the root cause of the problem.
And only then can permanent solutions be found. So, like a toddler, ask "Why?" - sometimes it is enough to ask only three times, sometimes you will have to ask six times.
Another way to identify problems is to ask “circular questions”. This method actually comes from systemic psychotherapy and is often used to resolve discussion blocks; but it can also help solve business problems. The principle is simple: instead of asking yourself "What is our problem?"
For example, you are looking for answers to questions like: “How would our customers represent the problem?" Or: “What are we doing in the Eyes of the field service wrong?” This "multiple glasses principle" causes a change in the Perspektive and helps you to gain new perspectives on a problem.
Step 2: Determine the value of the problem
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You now know what the real problem is. Before your creative Energy for analysis and resolution, you should determine how the problem should be classified. Only then can you useful Determine how much time and effort you are willing to put into the next steps zu invest.
To put it another way, you shouldn't be shooting at sparrows with cannons. Problems that have a high strategic value, to earn of course more awareness than problems of rather short-term or operational Character.
Step 3: Analyze the problem
Considering that there are countless types of problems with countless variables, it is difficult to make general recommendations. My special tip is therefore: do it like CIA agents. Solve the problem using a question checklist.
It is the “Phoenix Checklist for Problem Detection”. The agents of the United States' foreign intelligence agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), use the following checklist to look at a problem from different angles.
Checklist with problem solving questions
The following questionnaire can also help you with a professional or economic problem. And best of all, it helps you to analyze almost every problem.
- Why is it necessary that we solve the problem?
- What is the benefit of solving the problem?
- What is known to us?
- What do we not understand?
- What information is available to us?
- What is not the problem? Is the information sufficient? Are they insufficient? Are they redundant? Are they contradictory?
- Can we describe the problem graphically? Can it be quantified?
- Can the problem be broken down into sub-problems?
- How are the subproblems related?
- What are the variables that can be influenced by the problem?
- Have we seen this problem before?
- Have we seen a similar problem before?
- Do we know any related problems?
- Is there a known problem with the same unknown quantities?
- If there is a related problem we have already solved, can we use the solution to our current problem? Can we apply the same methodology?
- Can we reformulate our problem? How many different ways can we describe it? Can it be generalized or specified?
Step 4: Work out solution alternatives
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If you have analyzed the problem and pointed out the alternative solutions, then the most difficult step is likely to come: you must make a decision and implement it. Also helps a systematic approach!
Now it's about lighting a fantasy fireworks. If you have some ideas, you should fix them in writing.
Describe central thoughts
Try to describe the central idea in a few words. It is useful for the rest of the process if you also give the individual alternatives meaningful short names, such as “savings variant” or “Japanese solution”.
When creating alternative solutions, always include the “zero option”: think about what would happen if you did nothing.
Make a preselection
Managers are often forced to act, but overlook the fact that it may be a wise decision to do nothing. Mind you, this may or may not be the case.
Before you set out for further elaboration Idea decide, you should make a preselection. To do this, apply knockout criteria: What conditions must the solution definitely meet? So you already check at this point whether an idea is fundamentally suitable for the Implementation would be suitable.
Step 5: Choose an alternative
A simple decision matrix is not enough to solve complex problems, because it assumes that all criteria are equally important. With the evaluated decision matrix, on the other hand, you must also assign a weight to the individual criteria. In addition draw up first a decision matrix.
However, now add for each Alternatives two additional columns in which you weight the individual criteria as a percentage. criteria that a higher Significance have a higher percentage than the less important ones. As you might have guessed, all weights must add up to 100 percent.
What is important to you?
To find out what the “normal” importance is, you need to divide 100 by the number of criteria; with four criteria, this would be 25 accordingly. Criteria that are of above-average importance are given more than 25 percent weighting.
The value for each criterion is now calculated by multiplying the respective score by the weighting. Then add up again for each alternative all points. The evaluated decision matrix can produce entirely different results than with a simple, unweighted matrix.
Alternatives probe with the CAF method
With more far-reaching problems, one may and should no longer rely solely on one's feelings. This is where the CAF method (“Consider all facts”) helps, in which as many factors as possible are used for a decision. The principle is banal: you list all the items that have something to do with your problem, such as:
- the cost or the price / performance ratio,
- the time required,
- the effect on customers or
- the acceptance by employees.
Which alternative is best suited?
You can then use this list to determine which of the alternative alternatives is best suited. The advantage of this method is that all decision-making factors can be seen at a glance, due to the written form.
When creating your criteria list, a factor should of course never be missing: the feasibility. After all, what is the best idea when it is difficult or difficult to implement it?
Step 6: Set up an action plan
Once you have made a decision, you are now ready to implement it. Depending on the complexity of the problem and the scope of the solution alternatives, you should now create an action plan.
It doesn't matter whether you call it that or a project plan or a to-do list, but rather the fact that you name the individual Tasks and steps to solve the problem in terms of time, money and personnel to plan. So determine who will do what by when and what resources are available for this.
Step 7: Check the results
Assuming that you are not only responsible for finding a solution, but also for its implementation, the longest part of the mission may now begin, namely the continuous one Control of work progress: Will be those specified in the action plan Measures actually done in the defined time and quality?
One last tip: When you have completed the problem-solving process, ask yourself: what went well and what went badly? What can I do for them Future learn? Was it worth the effort? Perfect your problem-solving skills by critically analyzing your work.
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