Don’t find a solution, find a way to make it better

12 03 2007

We make a large error in our business and personal lives if we believe that every problem or situation can be solved immediately or in the short term through our decisions and application of resources.

Theoretically it’s possible, but our focus on solution instead of optimizing and making changes to make it better can blindfold us toward evolutionary processes that in the long term provide better, stronger and long lasting solutions.

I’m suggesting that every situation should be initially evaluated based on two basic criteria; can it be solved now, or can it be improved now.

The situations that can be solved now or in the short term, should be. The organization should dedicate the time and resources toward the solution.

An example would be a delivery service that has 3 trucks and cannot cover the current delivery area on-time due to an increase in customers and package volume. A possible swift solution would be the purchase of another vehicle and hiring of a new driver.

A situation that cannot be solved now or ever should be approached by identifying areas where improvement should be made. The time and resources of the company should be focused upon the improvement.

An example would be government’s attempt to eliminate poverty or disease from a population. A perfect solution is not possible or practical, but by focusing on specific areas one can find great opportunities for success or enormous impact (vaccinations for children against polio).

When we look at every situation as a problem that needs to be solved right now we may be missing the best solutions and strategies required to resolve the situation over the long term. Ask yourself:

  • Can we solve the problem quickly and efficiently with simply modification of variables or a shift in technology? If the answer is yes, then set the process and resources in motion.
  • What if the problem is not able to be solved quickly or has no practical or economically viable solution? This is where the approach of resolving and modifying parts of the problem comes into play.

This evolutionary approach to problem solving is not often requested or expected in business (the quick fix is always applauded and sought after), but often the best long term strategy is optimization and gradual modification.

This evolutionary problem solving process will provide new opportunities for change and solutions to be developed in the future.The identification of areas, processes or resources that are the bottlenecks in your organization become areas of opportunity.

Modifying and improving these bottlenecks will automatically create new bottlenecks, in new areas. The focus on identifying and solving these “new” situations leads to a process of continual improvement and a better, stronger organization.

This is one of the fundamental ideas behind the Theory of Constraints (TOC).

Common sense tells us that in a complex world not all solutions are simple, quick or painless. The “quick fix” is a great idea, but not often found in everyday life.

Observation of science, technology, philosophy and business ideas and strategies show us that change occurs through the rare revolution (paradigm shifts and new discoveries) and through the more common evolution (gradual modifications leading to continual change.

What can be changed, fixed or modified today to make the organization, process, product or service incrementally better?

Related Links

Why don’t they?

Starting over

How to systematically analyze any situation for better decision making

AGI Institute – Theory of Constraints

Evolution (Disambiguation)





Why don’t they

15 01 2007

How many times have you heard, or said, “why don’t they…….”

In the office it seems that everyone not directly involved with the decision making has the answers.

How many times have you heard:

  • Why don’t they just change or modify the process.
  • Why don’t they just lower the price.
  • Why don’t they give the supplier an ultimatum or find new suppliers.
  • Why don’t they give us the power to make decisions.
  • Why don’t they simplify the procedure.
  • Why don’t they hire an expert.
  • Why don’t they fire them.
  • Why don’t they do the right thing.
  • Why don’t they listen to us.

The next time you start with “why don’t they” stop and do the following.

  • Ask yourself what can YOU do to implement or bring your solution to the attention of the decision-makers.
  • Do you really understand the problem, it’s causes, consequence and secondary effects?
  • Do you have enough information to make an informed decision?
  • Have you mapped out the chronological actions (and costs) required to implement the solution?
  • What are the risks involved? There are risks associated with failure and with success, how can the organization prepare for those changes?
  • Have you told, written or explained your solution to the decision-makers?
  • Take action and do something about it.

An organization is strongest when everyone participates, and not necessarily when everyone participates in a linear and orderly manner. Your idea may have been missed in the analysis.

Good ideas and possible solutions are welcome (or should be welcome) at all times.

If your comments, solutions and ideas are limited to informal gripe sessions around the water cooler, it’s time to start writing them down and pushing them forward.

 

Stop waiting for someone else to do it, step up and let your voice be heard.

Related Links

Starting over

Analyze and plan using 7 simple questions

Why do we fail

Leadership lesson – A Message to Garcia

The Power of Something Extra





The power of something extra

5 10 2006

Here is a simple but powerful rule – always give people more that what they expect to get.” – Nelson Boswell

What defines an exceptional leader, a great manager, a super business, or remarkable experience? Something extra.

There are two words (one French and the other Spanish) that convey and represent the concept of something extra, lagniappe and pilon.

Lagniappe (hear it) is the word commonly used in Southern Louisiana and Mississippi. It’s defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.

Pilon is the Spanish word used in the southern US and Mexico to describe a gratuity given by tradesmen to customers settling their accounts, it’s something extra, and not expected.

Incorporating something extra in our actions, results and as a business philosophy can be incredibly powerful.

Something extra:

  • forces creativity and innovation.
  • demands clear understanding what is expected of us by others.
  • focuses our attention of adding value, and not on cutting costs.
  • is positive.
  • is rewarded with good will and positive reactions.
  • will lead to continual improvement.
  • is fundamental to continued success.

Something extra is all about the little things and details.

Something extra is not just something “free”, it must arrive without anticipation, unexpectedly in order for it to be special and make an impact.

Something extra allows you to surprise the customer.

Something extra will make think about your results and expectations. It will make the difference between simple compliance and outstanding results.

Something extra will make you and your results different from all the others.

Embracing something extra and applying it on a daily basis, will make you great.

Giving something extra is not a difficult task. It’s all about applying small acts of innovation and creativity to your results, especially for routine and day-to-day tasks.

The power of something extra can change your life, your products, your processes and how others perceive you.

“If you want to be creative in your company, your career, your life, all it takes is one easy step… the extra one. When you encounter a familiar plan, you just ask one question: What ELSE could we do?” Dale Dauten

Related Links

Motivation – Heroic moments

What defines an exceptional leader





Re-inventing the job interview

6 09 2006

I’ve been monitoring with great interest the idea and reactions to Seth Godin’s post The end of the job interview. He questions our current job interview process and proposes an interesting alternative.

Perhaps it’s time to take a hard look at our hiring and interview processes. Are they serving our needs and requirements or creating future problems?

Reinventing the job interview and hiring process makes perfect sense when we reflect that it was developed for a 20th century workforce that consisted primarily of manufacturing laborers.

The 21st century, brings an abundance of knowledge workers and forces us to ask what is the best method to determine if they are right for our organization. The interview and process required in order to understand the potential employees abilities are very different for knowledge workers.

The top leadership and management jobs in our companies have always been filled by candidates that have come with recommendations from other companies or executive networks. This provides a certain level of security that they had the skills in the old job, but no guarantee they will succeed in your organization and corporate culture in the future.

We are already seeing a shift in how we hire and select candidates. The use of networking and on-line social networks are allowing job seekers and employers access to individuals (at all levels of the company) who come with a certain degree of “recommendation”.

Dr. Ellen Weber has added her opinion to Seth’s ideas at Brain Based Business. Her piece Seth wants to bury job interviews for his own alternatives adds scientific and psychological perspectives as to why or why the concepts might just work.

David Maister lends his voice to the discussion with a resounding “I’m of the belief that the overwhelming majority of recruiting interviewing is a complete waste of time. In Screening for Character he argues that we should be hiring attitude and character, and our goal in the hiring process is to identify these traits. But there is a catch. We are not trained to do this. He suggests that candidate recommendations from others that we respect and trust are our current best method to assure “success” in the hiring process.

It’s a profound, extensive and obviously well known dilemma in our society and organizations. We know exactly what’s broke and not working well.

Now, who knows how to fix it?





Putting change into perspective

25 08 2006

We all understand that change is a part of our life. We’re physically changing, our environment is changing, our relationships are changing, the whole universe in changing.

How can we successfully survive and prosper in an environment that is constantly evolving, moving and changing?

How do we reduce and eliminate stress and indecision from our lives?

Change does not have to take us by surprise. It does not, and should not be thought of as a negative force. We can plan, prepare, adjust and create strategies that allow us to feel comfortable, reduce stress and look forward to change.

Change Options

  • Predict the change before it happens
  • Control the changes, limit the velocity or magnitud, guide and channel the change to fit your objectives
  • Create and provoke the changes
  • Embrace the changes, go with the flow, adapt and enjoy
  • Ignore change, the “head in the sand” treatment, pretend it doesn’t exist or isn’t happening.
  • Observe and analyze change, identify the factors that caused the change and study the effects.

Life is all about change. Growth is optional. It all depends on you.