Problem-Solving in The New Year

The New Year is a chance to assess one's progress towards established goals. Whether in a large organization, a team of 10 people or an individual, reflection on previous work is critical to establishing new baselines for success. 

I recently came across a simple yet brilliant series of steps by marketer and founder of Arkay Marketing & PR Lucy Rendler-Kaplan that show how individuals can enhance their personal brands. Her 6 Tips to Strengthen Your Brand tells why its so important to know the building blocks of your brand before you can change it or improve it. At OVP Management Consulting Group Inc. we think those tips are an important part of being able to help our clients with strategic thinking and effective problem solving. 

If you've read our blog before, you've come across topics like Designing Your Leadership Vision, Establishing Trust and Borderless Leadership. In each of these, we've talked about why it is important for leaders to understand the strengths/weaknesses of themselves and their teams when trying to solve problems and set achievable goals. We believe that any successful marketing effort (team or individual) must be predicated on a clear understanding of one's goals and skills are.

Facilitating a discussion about workplace diversity for Leadership Detroit in Detroit, Michigan.

Facilitating a discussion about workplace diversity for Leadership Detroit in Detroit, Michigan.

At OVP Consulting, we encourage all of our clients to begin their journey with us by taking an individual assessment that begins the process of identifying talents (hidden and obvious). We think its a great way to help leaders of teams establish the baseline needed to set appropriate goals, as well as point out the skills needed to achieve success.

In 2018, we are looking forward to working with our clients to set new goals and uncover new ways to approach solving of problems. We've begun partnering with firms from around the country to help leaders of organizations think and manage more strategically. 

Here's a short list of things we recommend leaders consider when attempting to fix problems on teams:

- Get agreement on your problem-solving methodology: Using established methods such as Lean Six Sigma, Hypothesis Testing, Continuous Improvement Process Design or Route Cause Analysis are just some of the approaches used to understand problems. Having a common language to tackle problems is critical to your success.

- Consider changing up how you conduct team meetings: If you typically have a traditional "around the horn" sharing of information meeting as  your model, perhaps consider a more structured style. For example, developing the habit of distributing meeting agendas, requiring advanced preparation or alternating meeting roles on a team can help uncover hidden roadblocks to the successful leveraging of your meetings to address problems.

- Bring outside perspectives into the discussion: This can be a difficult (and often humbling) approach for leaders, when looking to address the fixing of entrenched problems. Many business consultants believe bring outside voices into these sessions is among the most important things a leader can do. An outsider's perspective can be "instrumental in rethinking a problem quickly and properly." 

- Conduct a Go-and-See to observe a problem first hand: To effectively dive into problem solving (whether financial, operational or cultural), leaders must have first-hand observations to begin dissecting a problem. We sometimes like to call it "Standing in the Circle" which refers to observing an issue from one particular location over a period of time to truly understand an issue. 

Ensure everyone on the team participates by writing their definition of the problem: This goes along with the idea that when seeking input from team members, it isn't just enough to take a "verbal poll" of their opinions on an issue. It is critical to have their perspectives in writing. Once opinions are shared in writing, it gives team members a stake in the eventual outcome of a problem solving journey. It also serves as a real-time check on whether there is consensus on what problem is being addressed. 

Looking for some supplementary reading that goes deeper into the area of problem solving? I would recommend picking up The Toyota Way by Jeffrey K. Liker. It's not just for manufacturing. 


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If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate some of these problem-solving techniques with your teams, we'd love to help. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (coming soon)!