Tune-Up for Your Problem Solving System

Their Problem Solving System May Be Your Problem

Effective problem solving benefits from simple, easily comprehended procedures that are prepared in advance, utilize simple tools, and can be easily applied through-out the process, including follow-through after the solution is found, approved and implemented!  

Why have a plethora of “methods” been presented over the centuries toward that end?  An army of consultants and gurus daily marches forth to lead expensive seminars and “off-sites” to deliver their exclusive “new and improved” panacea, each a bit different from any other.  Hey!  There’s a new book and upcoming seminars in that!…

            “The Pancea System!”  (c) & TM 2011, Randy D. Bosch.                 

Many constructively and successfully build upon, learn from, and add creative insights into the age-old process of problem solving.  Many others simply redefine terms, add “buzz words”, re-brand worn (yet sometimes proven!) concepts, bolt on whistles and bells, and tout exclusive social media communities to let you believe that you are part of an elite group of insiders with the secret handshake of their system. 

"Don't Worry, They Said Failure is Required!"  (source unknown)

"Don't Worry, They Said Failure is Required!" (source unknown)

Far too many compel you to include “fail and fail often” into the requirements for success, which will require attendance at more seminars to learn ways to dig out of that abyss …

… after a few in-depth therapy sessions. 

If you accept the need to “fail in order to succeed”, don’t be upset if their system fails to work for you since it is part of that system’s success! 




Tuning the “Problem Solving Symphony”

This small addition to that cacophonous”white noise” is intended to help separate the wheat from the chaff of the problem-solving effort, perhaps a “second fiddle” that actually enhances the symphony, if you will.  Your mileage may vary, yet if this only reaffirms what you already know (from your Superior System!), then, “Mission Accomplished”!

Recognizing that problems are inherently fraught with opportunity for mis-understanding, error, incoherent communication, generating problem-causing solutions (applying iatrogenics to all aspects of life!), and occasional failure (they wouldn’t be called “problems” otherwise, would they) encourages – compels – continual learning in a search to be better prepared and equipped for the iterative and repetitive tests, tries, experiments, recoveries  – and the occasional genuine failure – that lead confidence in actions to achieve better results. 

Priming the Pump

Anyone who accepts or is assigned a problem-solving task (and every task is one) must both determine and demonstrate that the delegation of work to them by their client (even your “independent endeavor” client: you!) is clear, comprehensible and complete. 

The resultant work most also demonstrate clear, comprehensible and complete compliance to the requirements of the assignment – in a manner that causes the problem-solvers to be considered and consider themselves “champions” for the quest.  

Taking this care and making such a commitment at the beginning establishes a healthy, viable basis, useful metrics and helpful monitoring tools for determining that interim work product and “Completed Action” solutions demonstrate the following – to the agreement of all parties.

  • The problem is clearly defined and restated, achieving concurrence.
  • Possible solutions are defined and ranked.  Informally define alternative actions into three categories:
    1. Likely solutions for which analysis will be done in detail;
    2. Acceptable solutions for which enough analysis will be done to allow the client to ask for more facts intelligently;
    3. Rejected solutions with a short reason each was rejected.
  • All pertinent facts to support a recommended solution are identified.  
  • The tangible value or “cost” of each solution is clearly reported.
  • All of the tangible but non-fiscal facts that are pertinent are clearly demonstrated. 

A cogent system, transparently employed from the beginning of a problem solving effort, will prepare for, welcome and benefit from what constructive partners, collaborators and team members think of the possible solutions, what the profession and community are constructively achieving in the specific problem arena, and what beneficial resources, tools and management capabilities are available for creating and implementing the best possible solution. 

Budget for the Celebration Party!

Your potential for successful problem solving is enhanced when you:

  1. Recommend ONE solution to the client.
  2. Demonstrate that the solution fulfills the client’s program including applicable standards, regulations, schedule, budget, resources allocations, and life-cycle operational considerations.
  3. Define clearly all intangible items the client must consider in review and approval;
  4. State clearly all negative factors and how they will be mitigated;
  5. Demonstrate end-user AND community benefit and how that will be both ascertained and maintained;
  6. Identify and demonstrate “value added” and innovative features;
  7. Clearly delineate the implementation program;
  8. Propose the best ONE “Next Action” and preparations to address it; 
  9. Monitor, report, de-bug, fine-tune and generate process/product feedback through intentional post-delivery reviews.  
  10. Celebrate the effort, results and the great people who cared and shared – and thank the client!
  11. Learn, reform and incorporate, not merely “wash, rinse, repeat” for the next challenge with similar attributes, but harvest and integrate improvements in process, techniques and resource utilization to apply a fresh approach each time. 

Reject “Doctored” Solutions

None of this supports pre-determined, dictated, “backed into” or “doctored” solutions – ever.  If such a case is imposed from the start or is encountered along your problem solving path, then there is a different and greater problem to be solved within your team and your approach to fulfilling the mission, for catastrophic failure lurks in your future…

Don’t pour new wine into old wineskins!


About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
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