The business world has never been in more need of good problem solvers. The old paradigm of strategy departments and planning cycles has been replaced by agile and rapid team-based problem solving.
What constitutes good team-based problem solving?
- A rigorous step-by-step process (mine has 7 steps).
- Breaking down the problem into manageable parts.
- Prioritisation of the analyses, to avoid working on less important parts.
- Planning the work and working the plan.
- Accessing the right tools for the right situation. For instance, decision-making tools to ensure the best possible solutions are chosen. Or driver trees to disaggregate a complex problem into its component parts.
- And finally, and most importantly – inclusion and encouragement of the ‘problem owners’, to agree the problem and act on the solution(s).
Reading the above, you might think that few companies actually have the internal capability to solve complex problems.
And you would be right!
Think of a sticky problem in your business that has been hanging around far too long.
Some external help will likely solve the issue.
A simple case study where cashflow was improved by focussing on delinquent debtors.
Case Study: Cashflow due to delinquent Debtors
The client had a long-term issue with Debtors balances over 90 Days. This had been a problem for years. The MD of the company was frustrated that internal fixes had not worked.
This problem only required one short session with the CFO and ALL key members of his Finance team. We decided to instal a large TV screen in the workspace with just one number displaying on a 60cm screen. The one number displaying was the daily balance over 90 days that was owing. If the number went over a certain threshold, the number appeared bright red. Otherwise green. It was refreshed at the end of every day.
In less than 3-weeks the issue vanished and the impact on cash-flow was immediate. Why so quickly resolved? Primarily due to the fact that for the first time the Finance team shared the problem and acted on it. Prior to this it was the CFO’s problem. Team morale lifted and the tension between the MD and CFO dissolved.
That was about 10 months ago at the date of writing this, and the problem hasn’t reappeared for that client.
While this was a relatively simple issue, I have worked with owners and CEOs of public & privately held companies as a ‘company doctor’ resolving thorny complex problems and importantly advising on key decisions. Decision-making is a topic of its own – we can all be better decision makers.
What I bring to a business problem:
A structured problem-solving process for making smart decisions – a blend of mine and the McKinsey problem solving model.
Certified in Creative Problem Solving at Ball State University, Indiana, USA and Commercial Mediation with the Australian Commercial Disputes Centre (ACDC).
A tough-love leadership style.
An inclusive process that ensures people are not alienated – they feel a part of the solution, not the side that lost.
I don’t deliver solutions but instead work with those closest to the problem and get their buy in to act on the solutions.
A fresh set of eyes, as well as the infusion of ideas from other industries gathered over 25 years of specialising in corporate problem solving.
Access to the best subject matter experts, if and when required.
Personally invested – part of my fee is contingent upon the success of the project.
- banking ( retail + corporate )
- professional services
- information technology (software & services)
- construction ( commercial )
- specialised equipment hire
- farming ( broadacre: livestock & cropping )
- meat processing
- scientific services
- public & private hospitals & aged care
- materials handling
- medical research institutes