Problem Solving Sessions - Worthless Without the Right People

Jun 9, 2015 8:17:17 PM

Recently, whilst facilitating both a problem solving session and on a second occasion a decision making session, it struck me again how worthless these processes are in the absence of the right people.  The two experiences were such a contrast, that I needed to write about them.

The problem session was a real eye opener

This session was engaged with great enthusiasm by the team assigned to it, however, when half way through this problem, the following was raised:  “The information we are using was obtained through discussion and reading emails and reports. None of us were at the plant at the time, how do we know that  <specific data items> are correct?”  Debate followed justifying that if it was in the report, that such was sufficient and in order.  It transpired that no one present  was part of the reporting nor were any one close to the problem when it occurred, nor was the report writer a first hand witness.

This scenario cast a shadow of doubt in respect of all the information being used in the problem solving exercise.  Needless to say, it was abandoned.  It no longer had a purpose nor prospect of success.



The decision session:

In stark contrast is the decision session, deciding where to fit a particular work activity in a business process, implying that somebody need to take responsibility and accept the responsibility that the work activity will influence all other in the larger value chain.  This session, whilst it did not include the functional decision makers, did include representatives of all functions and in addition the participants had an appreciation for (a) the actual work involved, (b) how the work flows, (c) how the activity affects all functions and (d) how it affects corporate risk.

It was astounding, even when functional rivalry was clearly affecting the thinking process of those participating, how the use of a structured and logical process, led to real facts being visible and trivialities and speculation fell by the wayside. It was not an easy session, yet it produced an excellent result.


Why the Contrast Between the 2 Sessions


The One Session had the Right People in It!

The Other Session did not!


blue-quotation-marks-left If you want to make a decision which will be used and will last, make a creative one that incorporates the best thinking of your informed, key people.  blue-quotation-marks-right
-Chuck Kepner

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Topics: Problem Solving

Adriaan du Plessis

Written by Adriaan du Plessis

Johannesburg, South Africa | Managing Director of the Global IT CSI Practice
Adriaan provides consulting, facilitation and implementation services for root cause analysis, decision making and business improvement as well as people development using proven KEPNERandFOURIE™ tools and techniques. As a world-class facilitator he focuses on the use of a divergent set of improvement and thinking tools to assist businesses to enhance value, specifically in Root Cause Analysis, IT Root Cause Analysis and Decision Making.


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