The Problem Solving Method

I would like to share very useful article from Club Officers Training District 79 Division-E on December 03rd 2010 @ Pak Shama School Doha.

I was selected “Improving Your Management Skills” module presented by Cyril Anand,CL. (Senior Sales Manager Qtel Business Solution).

The module was given a clearly brief description about Management is Art or Science?, Why Manage When You Can Lead?, How the problem solving method?.

I’m sure, We are all having the problem.  For example about: Family matter problem, Problem related with to job or work and etc. All the problems can be solved, if we know How to solve the problem its self.

The problem solving method is “APOLLO

A –  ASSIGN talented, capable, experienced, effective people to Leadership, Tasks and Projects. We must have trained and responsible people or we will jeopardize any endeavor in business or space.
PPREPARE for the inevitable problems that will occur with your equipment and with processes and oh yes, even with people. After all, we know that …”Stuff Happens”. And whether flying through outer space or office spaces, every endeavor will experience two Classes of Problems to prepare for:

  • Normal, ANTICIPATED problems due to the ordinary expected situations or the systems which have failed in the past. We should have already developed, documented and trained with specific procedures and solutions.
  • New, UNANTICIPATED situations or system failures which have never come up before and for which there is no specific solution prepared yet.
  • But, even the “unknown problems” can still be prepared for with capable people, extensive system knowledge and the proper problem solving methodology.

OOUTCOME . When any problem comes up, we must define the desired final outcome, “If  you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up some place else” – Yogi Berra Quoted.

The are three outcomes to problems:

1.       Business as usual by following a documented standard procedural solution to the problem. This reflect an efficient , successful business.

2.       A new or adapted mission outcome. The 1st ever explosion of the Apollo 13 Oxygen tank was completely unforeseen. At that point, the original mission to the moon was scrubbed and a New revised outcome was to just the 3-man crew safely to Earth. And then afterwards,

3.       Corrections or Re-Engineering ( a “feedback loop”). When problems are solved, re-engineer or proceduralize the solution to prevent or minimize future problems.

L – LESSON LEARNED.  Previous failures and know weakness are very valuable. They help develop more effective process & identify resources to prevent or handle re-occurrences.

  • A feedback loop is essential to continually adjust and improve equipment & procedures. After Apollo 13, subsequent space missions didn’t have that Oxygen tank problem.
  • Lesson learned also include “Best Practices” from industry wide situations. Adapt them to documented process with the specific experiences (lessons) in our own company.
  • Identify the “Error Prone Process” cause the most trouble by the common mistakes and correct the process.
  • One of the basics with the space program was that everyone performing and managing the tasks must have comprehensive knowledge and training in Systems & Standard Operating Procedures. “SOP’s” are essential for smoothly running business also.

And to ignore weakness or problems and to just hope that things turn out alright is “Business by Wishful Thinking” and the business landscape with the resulting failures.

LLIMITATION. To be able to solve problems, we must know the existing systems. But also the limitations of those systems.

OOBSERVATION. Once a problem comes up, Don’t Act – Stop and Pay Attention!.  The details are very important. Sherlock Holmes never developed “theories” until he had investigated all of the data.

  • Accurate, detailed and complete Observation is one of the most important aspects of the problem solving method and the one most ignored. Many people will jump to conclusions from limited, incidental or misleading data and this lead to wrong actions.
  • We must observe all symptoms and ultimate consequences of the failed system but also the Good system that are remaining. We mustn’t focus on just the problem, since we will also need to maximize the good system for the solution.
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About Risman Dukhan

Process learning never stops until the end of our life. Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later works belong.
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