Solution Cycle

Solving Problems part 1

The Solution Cycle is a simple tool that has been developed over the years and proved successful in achieving goals. The chronological steps to the Solution Cycle are as follows:

Develop a succinct goal:

  • Written
  • In one or two sentences
  • Create SMART goals
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Trackable

Identify the single biggest problem that keeps you or your organization from achieving this goal:

  • List as many problems as you can.
  • Be very realistic in your assessment of what can be a problem.
  • People can be problems, too, if they choose to block change or aren’t getting their job done.
  • Choose the one most impacting problem as your target “fix.”
  • Only work on the most impacting problem.
  • Do not choose more than one problem even if it feels like several problems all need major attention.

List potential solutions targeted to this specific problem:

  • Brainstorm as many solutions as possible but make sure each solution targets the specific problem you identified as your “biggest” problem.
  • Limit your brainstorming time to 10-15 minutes.
  • There are no wrong answers in a brainstorm.
  • Have several people be part of the brainstorming team.
  • Give yourself freedom to suggest solutions that are outside the normal box.

Choose the single best solution:

  • Give each idea a fair look, even if it seems “over the top.”
  • Develop 5-point criteria and weigh each solution against each other with a standard measure.
  • Even if two solutions seem like they may work equally well, choose only one solution to implement.

Make a plan that puts the solution into action:

  • List the activities necessary to implement this specific solution.
  • Organize the activities into a step-by-step strategy.
  • Make sure you balance your plan with other activities so that you solve the first problem and don’t create others.
  • Think about who will do the work and how much it will cost. Make the plan simple.

Create a schedule to implement the plan:

  • Determine when to start – give yourself plenty of lead time.
  • Make sure everyone involved completely understands what you are trying to accomplish and the schedule.
  • Get the schedule in writing – you have to think through details to write it down.
  • Leave it lay a day or two and come back to the project with fresh eyes.

Report on progress:

  • Establish the times for reports.
  • Develop a format that gives accurate reports.
  • Get the reports to the right people.

Evaluate Effectiveness:

  • Is the corrective action actually impacting the original problem and are you moving toward the original goal?
  • What new problems have been created by implementing this solution?
  • Is what you are doing worth the effort (common sense look)?
  • Are the costs more than the benefits?

Brainstorm potential revisions to the plan to increase effectiveness:

  • Can we be more effective by changing the plan a bit?
  • Should we throw out the idea and start over?
  • Is there something that will make this plan more user-friendly or reduce the costs?
  • All ideas are good, but generally only one or two will really work.

Solving Problems 2

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