Strategy for solving problems


Hi, Online Solutions Group here, thank you for joining us.

Today: We’ll Answer. What does it mean to create a strategy for solving problems? Why is it important to establish a strategy for solving problems? How do I create a strategy for solving problems?

Imagine WAD, a small software development company owned and operated by the Sergio family.

The Sergio family develops everything for standard computers, but word on the street is that customers want more options than that. This gets Sergio thinking about what products they could be developing.

Putting their heads together, Sergio came up with a whole bunch of different products they could develop, including digital business cards, Mobile applications, CRM systems, and even Aggregators for job seekers and application tracking systems. So, what’s their next step?

When deciding how to solve a problem, start by creating a problem statement, a few short but detailed sentences about your problem.

From there, you can identify objectives and key results, or OKRs for short, to establish what you want to achieve (AKA your objectives) and how you’ll know when you’ve achieved it (AKA your key results).

Once you have all those figured out, it’s time to figure out how you’ll actually reach those objectives to solve your problem. To do that, you’ll need a strategy.

To find the right strategy, start by coming up with a lot of ideas of what you could do. This is known as expansive thinking.

Then, once you have a lot of ideas of what you might do, narrow these down to the ones that you should do. This is called reductive thinking.

By brainstorming a lot of ideas for solving your problem and then narrowing these down to the ones that might work best, you can create a strategy to help you achieve your objective and solve your problem.

LISTEN UP: Before sitting down for a big brainstorm session, find out as much as you can about the problem you are trying to solve. Ask others involved in the decision-making process to do so on their own, too. There are many ways to prepare for your brainstorm.

First, explore and analyze any existing data to find clues as to what might be a good solution.

See if there’s been research done about your problem or problems similar to it. Check trade journals, newspapers, credible industry websites, and other places where this information may have been published.

Talk to people who would know about solving the problem. Conduct interviews (informal ones are perfectly fine) with a diverse group of people – for instance team members, managers, and customers – to get a variety of perspectives.

Finally, look to “parallel worlds” where this problem has been solved before. Go beyond your industry – when people wanted to create swimsuits that allowed for faster swimming, they looked beyond swimwear, at ocean animals.

Once you’ve gathered information about your problem, hold a brainstorming session to come up with potential solutions.

Invite a diverse group of people from different backgrounds for different perspectives, ideas, and opinions.

Be sure to also invite the people responsible for creating the solution or who have to live with its consequences.

Brainstorming is great for generating ideas, but it can be challenging. Luckily there are a few things you can do to ensure your brainstorm is focused and productive.

First, identify someone to lead and facilitate your brainstorming session. Without a leader and facilitator to keep everyone on task and enforce any rules agreed to by the group, the meeting can become chaotic.

Additionally, someone should be taking notes and acting as a time-keeper to ensure the meeting stays on track. Depending on the size of your brainstorm, these could all be separate roles or one person running the whole show.

Make sure everyone knows when it’s time for coming up with lots of ideas, no matter how big or small (expansive thinking) and when it’s time to narrow those down (reductive thinking).

TIP: To get started with the brainstorming, think about what you addressed in your problem statement, and how you might achieve your objectives and key results. Then, discuss possible strategies for achieving your OKRs – this is the time for expansive thinking.

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of potential solutions, lay them out in a solution tree, a structured way to organize your objectives and how’ll get there (your strategy).

Start by writing your objective, like “Increase sales.” Create branches from that objective that list different solutions you’ve thought of, like “Increase sales of our existing items” and “Start selling a new item.”

From each of these solutions, create branches that detail strategies that could help. For “Increase sales of our existing items,” strategies could be, “Attract new customers in a specific region,” and “Expand to a new region.”

Then, for “Sell new things,” you might say “Start selling new products,” and “Start offering new services.” Make sure your strategies don’t repeat to avoid any confusing overlap.

If all goes well, you’ll end up with a few solutions and strategies that sound good. To decide which ones to invest your effort in, a prioritization map can help.

A prioritization map lets you plot out ideas based on what level of impact they’ll have and what amount of effort they’ll take to achieve, helping you reduce a large number of potential ideas to a smaller list of prioritized solutions.

Take a piece of paper or create a document and draw a graph with one vertical line and one horizontal. Label the vertical axis “impact” and the horizontal one “effort,” then list out all your solutions and plot them on the graph.

As you plot out your solutions on the graph, you’ll begin to see which ideas you should consider and which are less worthwhile.

Solutions that are high impact and high effort will likely be the main part of your strategy. Ones that are high impact and low effort are quick wins, and good for building confidence in your team and stakeholders.

Solutions that are low impact and low effort should be kept low priority and focused on only when you have a little free time. Solutions that are low impact and high effort are probably not worth your time and can be discarded.

DO THIS NOW. Before you decide on a strategy, you’ll want to brainstorm, but remember there’s stuff to prepare even before you brainstorm. So, let’s make a pre-brainstorm to-do list.

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You’ve probably realized that you need to do a decent amount of research before you can jump into it. Let’s do a quick evaluation to see if you’re ready. Go to our website and fill in the online test! You find a link in the description. 



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