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FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS – SOLVING THE RIGHT PROBLEM THE RIGHT WAY

In today’s current fast pace of life and work it is increasingly important to produce the right results by solving the right problems, the right way. To make this real requires a focus on solutions using innovation. 

This may seem obvious, “of course we want a solution”, yet getting there requires an outlook that uses innovation and focuses on the solution not blame. This means that mistakes CAN BE made so that change and improvement take place quickly and time is not wasted on looking back. This does not mean that there is tolerance for sloppy work, it means that divergent thinking is encouraged where accountability is clear, and success is rewarded. 

A client of ours had a recurring issue of incorrect invoicing to their clients. No matter how many times the owner asked who was responsible, why procedures weren’t followed and stating that everyone should know better this mistake continued to occur until the approach changed from finding fault to finding a solution. Here is how it works:

First, accept that currently, you do not know the solution. This encourages possibility thinking (divergent thinking), creativity and responsible risk-taking. Then, identify the one person as the leader (authority) of a team. This person will have authority over finding the solution and is closest to where the solution will be implemented. The team members are chosen based on their knowledge, know-how, expertise, and problem-solving experience that best suits the task. Members are not chosen based on titles or job descriptions. This team reviews the problem (potential improvement point), writes a task and works on it until they are sure they have the right solution, and the person with authority over the task signs off. Once the solution is applied, they are honest about whether it is working or not and take responsibility to accept both the rewards and consequences. Upon implementation, the team disbands. Down the road, if action is required, the leader is notified so that corrective action can be taken. This supports long term success and provides a clear line of accountability. 

This approach accomplishes some very important changes that are crucial to achieving success in today’s world. There is a deliberate shift of authority from a few at the top, to where decisions should be made, and the solutions implemented. This creates a nimble flat structure where change is expected, and people can effectively handle it. It also focuses on HOW problems are solved and build muscle for leadership and authority at all levels of the business. Shared authority builds maturity where finger-pointing is not accepted and decisions with accountability and rewards are the norm. “We are in this together” requires mutual trust and respect where people are supported to fail fast so that the right solutions are implemented effectively in real-time.

George Land spoke of today’s challenges, TEDx Tucson George Land the Failure Of Success, saying that no institution is not facing profound, turbulent and unpredictable change. Old answers are not working, and success must be discovered through innovation. 

Taking an approach that has innovation built into it avoids creating bureaucracies and supports leadership development.   Part of using innovation for problem-solving is deliberately setting aside time to allow the creative part of the brain to go to work. To be able to replicate an effective and efficient decision-making process, how things get done, allows the team to apply their strengths to what needs to get done. The five steps of the decision-making process are: 

1.Warm-Up: Relax, slow down, focus on the task and the team

The team is guided to focus on the task at hand. Warm-Up builds a collaborative team intention, fosters an environment of mutual trust and respect and encourages new connections among members and ideas. Using Warm-Up helps individuals use a fresh mind to tackle new and long-standing challenges as part of a solution-focused team.

2. Accumulate: Collect and Share Information

Gather ideas and data as part of solving the task or accomplishing the goal. Focus on options in a broad sense. Encourage creativity without edits to the information. Don’t hold back. Take as much time as you need. Gathering extensive information expands possibilities and saves time in the long run. Accumulating all the data with everyone present builds efficiency.

3. Clarify: Express Ideas and Explore Actions

Clarify starts to explore and understand the interrelatedness and interdependence of the information.  This step identifies unknown opportunities as well as creating a deliberate pause, to step back and reflect while discussing action steps. This creative detachment moves the focus away from “pride of ownership” to the best solution possible. Both right and left brain goes to work. 

4. Optimize: Fine-tune Ideas and Action

This phase finds “AHAs” and brings up questions, doubts, and disagreements. What bubbled up from a time out? Look for the optimal solution in this forum before application. Think about “Why Not?” Make changes where needed, look for both the maximum benefit and the optimal benefit.

5. Finalize: Build Commitment and Collaboration

Finalize ensures that all contributors know what is to be done, by whom, how and by when. This gains commitment to the decision taken and supports follow through. It may also be the first time that some decision-makers have full authority over a task and are responsible for the implementation of the solutions. 

Teams lead by FarVision meet to solve problems, not make recommendations. This method opens the door to effective long-term solutions, clearer outcomes, and improved leadership strength by allowing members to make mistakes faster to provide for creativity and the right solutions. 

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

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