No matter the challenges you face in your work environment, there is a solution to every problem and by following a structured problem solving process you can make the necessary changes for the better.
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I regularly see the phrase ‘Change is possible’ displayed on a parking ticket payment machine at a nearby mall and it always makes me smile. The message is intended to reassure customers that they do not have to have the exact amount of cash to pay their parking ticket with, but for me it is an important message for every business.
Let’s pretend for a moment I had a magic wand and would grant you any three wishes of changes you would like to see in your work environment. Would it be an easy list to make? Would you want one of your wishes to be more wishes? How incredibly reassuring then that change is possible.
Once you have created your wish list for positive change in your work environment, my next question is how long have you been struggling with these challenges and what are you doing about them? Have you brainstormed with colleagues on potential ways to address your challenges? Have you done research on it? People can easily get stuck in complaining about the challenges they face without ever taking any action to resolve them.
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You can follow these eight steps in a basic problem solving process:
Step 1 – Define the problem
It is important to know what the actual problem or root cause is. Addressing the symptom is not enough. Once you have a clear understanding of where you are at today versus what the ideal situation would be like, you are ready to move on to step two.
Step 2 – Generate alternatives
There are many different brain storming techniques that can be used to assist you to come up with alternatives. The more alternatives you have the better, so it may be a good idea to also involve other people in this step.
Step 3 – Evaluate the alternatives
This is the point where you need to decide on your selection criteria. You may, as an example, need to look at an alternative that won’t cost you any money or one that you can implement without the assistance of external service providers.
Step 4 – Select the best alternative
In this step you will identify the best potential solution, based on your selection criteria.
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Step 5 – Implement the solution
When implementing the solution, it may be best to start with a smaller test sample and slowly roll it out in a controlled manner so that corrective action can be taken if the identified solution yields unexpected results.
Step 6 – Verify that the solution works
Do not simply assume that the solution you implemented works 100% effectively.
Step 7 – Learn from the process
Once you are confident that you have successfully implemented a solution that worked, take some time to reflect on what you have learned. Are there perhaps other opportunities for positive change that you also identified in the process? What mistakes would be best to avoid next time?
Step 8 – Share the learning
There is a lot of value to be gained through the knowledge and experience of others, so remember to also share what you have learned with other teams or team members and in this way help them to also see that change is possible.