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Seb Anthony

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Need a useful theory / practical exercise that looks at solving participants work related 'problems'. I have looked at De- Bono six hat thinking. Any others out there that will be useful???
Martin Brown

4 Responses

  1. sledgehammer to crack a nut
    I’m not sure if this is quite what you want but Bywater in Australia and Quest in the UK each produced a quite neat process for solving business problems.
    Each of them is all encompassing from initial definition of the problem (to ensure we actually have common understanding) through to ensuring the solution is embedded in the organisation if appropriate.

    Quest sell a very cute booklet (about 3 inches by 4 inches) that outlines the process and all the relevant tools.

    They are a bit more “serious” that a simple exercise but they are both very good, I’ve used them both to good effect with managers and technical specialists alike.
    Hope this helps
    Rus Slater

  2. Paired coaching
    You don’t really need any fancy model or theory. If you put course participants into pairs or small groups and ask them to go away and discuss the application of your coursde to their work, they will often say these discussions are the most useful element of your course. You can structure these sessions more if you want to – but there’s often no need. You just need to feel OK about releasing control!

  3. Create your own process!

    Whenever I teach creative problem solving it is always in the context of using it to solve a real problem. Otherwise it’s just theoretical.

    Call it “on-your marks, get set, go, finish”

    First find the problems to work on. Two each. What is really bugging us.(5 min). Group selects one.

    Then start exploring the problem. Phrase it positively as “How can we…” Rewrite problem 10 times. Often the earliest perception of a problem is wrong. Select the statement to work with. (5-10)

    Perhaps draw a hierarchy by asking ‘why?’ and ‘what’s stopping us’ to break down any complexity into manageable chunks. At this stage the solutions can be obvious but avoid the urge to find solutions just yet. (15 min)

    Then Go into idea generation – liven up your brainstorming by trying the mexican brainwave (see ) (15 min) – as many flips as people around the room. Get physical – more oxygen to the brain!

    Cull the ideas quickly on the flips using a sticky dot vote (3 each say). Also mark the craziest for later. (5)

    Take the best ideas and position them in a 3×3 table showing impact (H,M,L) on the problem v our implementation power (H,M,L) (10 min)
    Select the ideas with H impact and H or M implementation power.

    Then get on with it.See-

    Don’t hang around with the process timewise (1 hour ish). Quick and snappy otherwise transcendental hesitation sets in as people start to think too heavily about the issue.

    Good luck.

  4. Well formed outcomes
    The block to problem solving can sometimes be the focus on the problem at the expense of the outcome. Rather than asking ‘what’s the problem?’ start down another route by asking ‘What do we want?’ State this in positive terms – for example, ‘To increase productivity by 10%’ rather than ‘Stop unproductive activities’.
    Give the group a ‘Well Formed Outcome Checklist’ – this list of a dozen questions is a practical tool they can apply immediately and continue to apply in their everyday work. By focusing on outcomes, you spend less time looking in the rear view mirror at what’s gone wrong (or worse, whose fault it was) and more time on moving towards a solution. Far from a soft option, it requires people to take accountability for fixing rather than finger pointing. And it generates energy and desire by making the Outcome vivid and worth the effort.

    Check out sites / books on NLP for the checklist.

    Hope it goes well.



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