How good is your company at solving problems?

In a study of 91 different state-owned subsidiaries and private companies in 17 countries, it was found that 85% of companies did not perform successfully in diagnosing problems. The most common behavior in this research is that companies try to solve the problem without diagnosing it properly.

In other words, companies are not aware of which problem they are solving. In other words, problem solving is given importance, but it is often unaware that time is spent on the right problem.

The existence of high efficiency working methods such as Scrum, Six Sigma, TRIZ is obvious. These methods, when applied correctly, both minimize problems and increase productivity. However, applying these methods may cause cumbersome in some cases. So a little simpler methods are needed.

Being able to solve the problem, looking at the problem from a different angle can produce creative and efficient results. In this article, we will tell you what kind of way you should follow to look at the problems again ...

Slow Elevator Problem

Let's imagine something like this: You have a 5-storey building. You are the host of all apartments in this building. However, tenants complain about the slowness of the elevator in the building. The elevator is both old and ox-like. Some tenants say they will terminate the lease if the elevator is not repaired.

Many people suggest a solution to the problem here: Install a new and powerful motor on the elevator and increase the speed of the elevator ascent.

However, a solution can also be offered to this problem: Putting a mirror in the elevator ...

Indeed, when a mirror was placed in the elevator, people's complaints decreased. Because people cannot fully comprehend the time that passes while examining themselves in the mirror.

So when we put the problem in a new frame here, we see the following picture:

Elevator Slow ——–> Fast motor to the elevator (Classic solution suggestion)

Waiting is boring ——–> People's mirror, music etc. Make them feel less time with (Alternative solution proposal)

The mirror solution is very interesting because it does not provide a new solution to the specified problem and does not accelerate the elevator. However, it provides a different perspective on the current problem.

Fitting a fast motor in the elevator could also help. But the main purpose of looking at the problem from a new perspective is to get a fresh perspective. In the elevator example, differentiating the time of people coming to work and leaving for lunch according to departments could also provide a solution to the slow elevator problem.

Men's Restroom Problem

It is known that the rate of urine splashing in men's toilets is quite high. For this reason, cleaning costs are also increasing. So how can you effectively overcome this problem and drive down cleaning costs?

Schipbol Airport in Amsterdam has found an ingenious solution to this problem. With just one small change, they managed to reduce the urine splash rate by about 80%. How Does?

By drawing a fly figure for your urinals ...

Now let's look at the steps to follow to take a new perspective on the problems encountered.

How to View Problems from New Perspectives?

Two different ways can be followed in the methods we will talk about here. In the first of these ways, how much control you have over the situation matters. However, this method can be taught to anyone within 30 minutes.

The second way is when you have no control over the situation. The main thing here is to rework the problem in 5 minutes. 5 minutes may sound too short to redefine a problem, but the expression "when the egg hits the door" in our Turkish has a lot of meaning at this point. People use more of their potential when they have to. If time is short, the decision will be made faster. Interestingly, these decisions are often more effective.

So let's look at the methods you can use to take a fresh look at the problems you encounter.

1. There Should Be A Democratic Conversation

If you are the only person who knows the importance of addressing the current problem from a new perspective during a meeting, your job is a little difficult. People may see your fresh ideas as "making an invention". Or when you are with customers or people on the company's board of directors, there is a hierarchy. If these people are hierarchically superior to you, they may suppress your voice.

The first thing you should do here is to explain the importance of reworking the problem and why this method works. At this point, you can explain the slow elevator problem. The slow elevator example is a very good and practical way to explain what it means to rethink the problem. In other words, everyone should have the right to speak and a democratic business environment should be established. Of course, this is related to the corporate culture. It is not possible to create such a corporate culture in a few days, but we can still say that it is worth a try.

2.Invite Outsiders to the Conversation

Think of a company: Executives think there are problems with in-house innovation. Then, company managers want to provide innovation training to employees, but managers cannot decide how this training should be given within the company.

You need someone new to the discussion between managers here. For example, the boss's secretary may be asked what he thinks about this issue. This secretary may say that the company has already provided innovation training for years, but employees are reluctant to apply innovation techniques.

In other words, someone coming from the kitchen can point out the main problem by saying that the main problem is not the lack of innovation, but the lack of motivation. If employees lack motivation despite their knowledge of innovation, employees can be given a little more autonomy. For example, flexible working hours may be given. Employees can be given the opportunity to work from home several days a week. Decision mechanisms within the company can be made more democratic. Employees' ties with the company can be strengthened.

As can be seen from this example, a fresh perspective on the issue has a lot to offer. As a person who knows both the management and staff levels of the company, the secretary can offer very useful insights.

For this reason, someone from within the company may be asked to speak freely and express their opinions. In other words, asking an employee for comments and opinions about the company can be much more effective than waiting for a solution proposal from that person. The task of this person is not to solve the problem, but to encourage a different perspective.

3.Ask People to Make a Definition

People can agree on X topic during a meeting. However, after a certain period of time, it turns out that they actually have different opinions about the subject.

For example, the company's board of directors may think that there is an innovation problem in the company. However, when people on this board are asked to describe the problem one by one, it is seen that they all have different opinions.

"Our employees are reluctant to innovate."
"They don't understand the urgency of the situation."
"Employees must have innovation training."
"Customers are looking at the price of the product, not innovation."

Each of these sentences actually points to different issues. In this case, the most important thing to do is to ask people on the board to write down their thoughts.

Individual definitions of the problem can be better analyzed during the meeting. In other words, asking everyone for their views on the problem and then collectively going through these views gains a rich repertoire of perspective on the problem.

Learning the opinions of others in writing in more detail enables to produce more rational and efficient solutions to the problem.

4. Ask What Is Missing

When people describe what the problem is, they often repeat the details previously stated and pay less attention to the issues that have not been mentioned. To avoid this, ask people what topics were not discussed at the meeting.

We can give an example like this: There is a company. It is necessary to improve the market perception of the stock prices of this company. The team involved in this business is trying to develop a strategy by analyzing technical issues such as the value of the stock, earnings per share, and debt ratio. These issues are well known to the management of the company.

However, a question about what was missing at this meeting could help this team find something new. For example, financial analysts who give the company a credit rating and young managers of the company meet. These managers are not fully equipped with how to talk to financial analysts. Negotiations with a credit rating agency are one of the most important factors determining a company's place in the stock market.

As a question of what is missing or different, this has been discovered and necessary steps have been taken to improve the company's market perception on stock prices.

As you can see, sometimes even looking at the issue from a very subtle perspective can make a difference. So seeing what is missing and different rather than what exists can open the door to a solution.

5. Consider Different Categories

Robust and powerful change is possible by changing the way people view an issue. One of the ways to achieve this is to get people to think about what category the problem in the middle falls into. Is it an issue with earnings? Is it a problem with future prospects? Or is it an attitude problem?

Children's TV channel Nickeledon has been busy developing a smartphone app some time ago. Later, thousands of children downloaded this application. However, activating the application was quite complicated. In the end, the password for the cable TV at home had to be entered. At this point, most children stopped using the app.

The team saw the problem as a usability problem. He tried many ways to become a member by developing the app and tried to simplify the process, but that didn't work either.

Jeremiah Zinn, the manager at the head of this team, realized that his team was addressing the problem very narrowly. The team focused only on the actions of the children. Where they clicked, where and how much time they spent examining everything. However, they ignored the children's feelings. Then they started to examine the emotional reactions of the children. And they realized that the children were afraid of entering passwords. Entering passwords, such as talking to strangers, is prohibited for all young children. As a remedy, an explanatory video was added to the beginning of the application that they can get permission from their families to enter the password, thus the registration rate increased by a full 10 times.

There is another interesting point in this example. Social psychologist Abraham Maslow's quote is very meaningful here: "If you only have a hammer, you start to see every problem as a nail." Since everyone on the team was a user experience expert, the main problem was thought to be usability. However, when the explanatory video was added, the rate of children using the application increased significantly.

6.Include Fresh Brains in Conversation

It is also necessary to look at what the situation was when there was no problem in order to reconsider the problems. So "How was the situation when there was no problem?" must ask. Examining these types of positive exceptions can make it easier to discover important issues that the group may not have noticed.

For example, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, author of the book Innovation as Usual, describes a memoir on the subject:

“Experienced and partner-level lawyers in a law firm occasionally hold meetings about how to grow the company. However, right after these meetings, they continue to talk about short-term projects again. However, a young lawyer who has just entered the company also attends one of these meetings. This young lawyer, on the other hand, produces very good ideas to rise and shine in the company.

In some cases, including fresh minds in the conversation can lead to new solutions.

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