Monday, 14 April 2008

Increasing Results with Creative Problem Solving

Increasing Results with Creative Problem Solving
In today’s competitive environment, and the gloomy predictions for a reduced growth rate in the UK, it is critical that companies continue to improve their absolute and relative performance. It would therefore seem to be common sense that organisations make the most of the creative talent within their workforce. How do you do this in a way that ensures both focus on business success and aligns the efforts and energy of the team?
Defining Success
There are 3 areas that companies could chose to focus on
- Financials (Top 100 FTSE investment)
- Customer (Which? Consumer survey)
- People (Top 100 company to work for).
with 2 common approaches. Big Hairy Audacious Goals (Collins) or Continuous Improvement (Deeming et al). There is of course a third way – aligning and leveraging small improvements in a series of areas to achieve a big result. Try this on your own profit and loss account. Increase sales by 1%, reduce cost of sales by 1% and reduce overheads by 1% ...... which can lead to around 20% improvement in profit!
Results Focussed Creative Problem Solving
Ideally in a cross functional team of between six to twelve people
- Clearly Define the Issue. Ensure you are tackling the appropriate topic through asking is this a symptom or a cause? Generate the “ Trigger Question “ that will provide the focus for the following
- Engage Divergent Thinking. Come up with as many possible ideas, thoughts, challenges, issues as you can. When you think you are done ask yourself what if you could come up with two or three more ideas?
- Connect The Thinking. Step back and look for commonality amongst the ideas. Cluster them together and see what common themes emerge
- Gain Insight. Identify the relationship between the clusters. How do they inter relate and effect each other?
- Focus On Actions. List the actions that would give you maximum impact to answer the original question. Be SMART
- Commit To Actions. Allocate resource and take the first step.
Is it this simple?
Yes and No. This approach has evolved and been tested over the last 12 years. For a simple question a group of twelve people could go through the whole process in two to three hours. For a strategic issue it could take two to three days.
The results speak for themselves “That was one of the most amazing meetings I have been to in a long time, especially for the way everyone came together and the output achieved in such a short space of time”
“This was a major example of teams working effectively and collaboratively on a large scale problem. If this problem had not been resolved, the effect on monthly sales and potential lost customers would have seen the business lose £millions.”
“We are delighted at the way the ideas and actions generated encouraged all our managers to contribute and own the outcome. Contributions have given incredible sales results – 110% successful”.