The first thing I focus on when deciding how to approach a client is what potential value I can bring to their area of responsibility. How can I help? I seek to understand the direction in which they wish to progress, what factors are important to them, what their objectives are, and where their potential problems lie. In today’s environment of complex enterprise systems, the first estimate of where a solution lies is likely well off the mark. Thankfully, maturing methodologies and practices based on failures and iterative successes exist to help us find appropriate solutions. I often recall a Harvard Business Review article, “Are You Solving the Right Problems?“ by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg. This article illustrates the different perspectives in which a problem ought to be viewed and analyzed.
Often when saddled with a huge program of work, there’s a tendency to fall back on the templates and checklists of prior projects. I’d hazard rote adherence to a checklist plan is fraught with risk. How do we know if we are on the right path? How do we confirm hypotheses along the way? What is the risk of pausing to assess progress along the way and adjust the path if need be? What is the assumed risk of not doing so? Before diving into the vast array of possible solutions and choosing only one, I make a concerted effort to understand the problem at hand. When we define the problem first, we open ourselves up to multiple solutions, lessening the chance of tunnel vision on the wrong one.
The Solution Is not the Problem – Defining the Problem Is
A great place to start the conversation of defining the problem is with ideation and strategy. Enter Mr. George Watt and his Becker-Carroll practice. Author of the recently published book Lean Entrepreneurship, George’s practice brings decades of experience in adapting models and proven methodologies developed in the field to the client’s problem-space. The problem definition starts with the initial dialogue. Becker-Carroll is here to assist you in this journey forward.
Defining any problem can be a handful for anyone. It’s important not to skip the initial discovery and defining process that all problem solving methodologies need in order to be successful. Conducting a thorough dialogue is necessary to fully map out any issue, and you use that map to lead you to the best solution.