If you can’t see the problem, you have a problem!
A good leader will not only have their ears open to problems bought from the team but will also encourage the team to come to the solution. And a world-class leader will coach their team members how to arrive at a solution.
If we do not teach our teams a standard method, we are really only encouraging them to firefight. In most cases this is how we earn our rewards, the number of fires put out but this does not create a sustainable business. What should we do differently?
As leaders, we need to develop a method for solving problems, a method that welcomes every problem as an opportunity to learn and improve our business.
With a robust problem-solving method comes continuous improvement, with every problem we solve we move the business forward. We think there are 3 different levels of problems solving each making a different impact on the business.
Quick wins – every pitch every day, what problems did we face in the last hour that we need to fix in the next hour. These are simple easy to fix problems that everyone can resolve. The solution is usually very quick to determine and cheap to implement so we can afford to put the solution in place and if it does not work try something else. These problems require input only from the team working in the area. From the leader, the team need a safe learning environment and the encouragement that if they do not solve the problem first time they can repeat the process.
Root cause analysis – The next level of problem/opportunity arises from looking at our data over a longer period. From the data, we can determine a list of top 5 issues. These issues have more impact on the business so warrant more time, more people, but the cost to implement can be found by the site team.
8 step method – The final level of problem-solving is for those problems that cross the functional boundaries, take longer to arrive at the solution and often the solution requires a different way of thinking. This level of problem is complex with no known solution and would typically take 10 to 12 weeks to arrive at a solution. These types of problems cost the business money but in their resolution productivity in the business is improved. These types of problems need support from the leaders in the business.