Problem Solving: It’s About Helping Diagnose What Ails the Organization

© Radu Razvan - Fotolia.com

Getting dressed the other morning for a 5 AM flight, I turned on the television as I dressed.

But at 2 AM, the choices are slim. As I tried to find the weather, I clicked through many channels until I found the local news.

What I found instead was channel after channel of infomercials. Regardless of your need, there is an infomercial for it — everything from better abs, diet, dealing with uncontrollable kids, super vitamins for perfect health, and the latest in exercise equipment.

Turn on late night TV and there is a quick and easy solution for just about anything. Any ailment has an infomercial for it and, presto, you are back to 100 percent.

I am always amused as spring comes, and with it, the inevitable yard sales because you see so many of those late night wonders on sale for a few bucks.

I want it now

We have become a society of the quick and easy — no methodical approaches, no rigor in getting a process into place. We set goals and, pronto, we want results.

I had someone tell me that they stopped exercising because she could not see the results. She said that when she gets up and cleans her house, she could see results when she was finished. But after exercising a day or two, she did not see results so she stopped.

With a statement like that what can you say?

The contrast

Contrast that with a rigorous approach to problem solving which has been developed through a methodical approach. It’s about asking questions, determining the end result, figuring out the gap analysis, and then (and only then) would we begin the process of working through a process.

It may take a while to get the right model in place, but continually working at it should help you to see some results.

Just the facts

My guilty pleasure on TV happens to be crime shows, and not the scripted ones that are solved in an hour.

No, the ones that I love are more on the documentary side that takes a crime and methodically breaks it down. From the onset of the crime to the resolution, every item is looked at and examined. Every piece of evidence is reviewed over and over, all in the name of finding that “root cause.” I am always amazed with the amount of “detective work” that goes into finding the culprit, as opposed to the scripted and dramatized TV version.

And yes, sometimes they do get it wrong, but the process and methodology is painstakingly done.

It is the same as visiting a doctor with an ailment; they start their process by asking questions. Patients come to the ER or the doctor’s office complaining of symptoms that could have many possible causes. The doctor has to interview and examine the patient, order appropriate tests or procedures, and then render a diagnosis. You are always told that if after a few days if there is no relief, come back and they will outline a more in-depth analysis.

Article Continues Below

The organization’s diagnostician

This should not be any different than what we do, or should do, in our HR approach to problem solving within the business organization. We should be as methodical in our approach as the doctor would. Our process should be to gather all the facts. Are we tracking the correct metrics that will allow us to make a data-based decision? Did we dig deep enough until we got to the root cause?

We should not be order takers within the organization. By that I mean, if we got a call from a department that says, “I need to send someone out for training or team building,” do we take the order and deliver? Or, do we begin our methodical approach to finding the “real cause?” It may be that the training class is just not the long-term solution.

If one of your executives has a terrific idea for employee engagement, do we just take this idea and deliver? Or, do we become the organization’s diagnostician and take that approach to gathering all the symptoms, facts, and then try and determine how we are going to approach and build?

The fallacy of best practices

We all look at best practices. That is exactly what they are — a best practice that worked at some other company based on that organization and culture. But, there is never a one-size-fits-all best practices. If it worked at Google or Zappos, it does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that it will work in your company.

Business needs to adapt constantly in order to remain competitive. Our challenge will be to create systems and processes that are flexible in their design.

We have just witnessed the worst era of economic turmoil in our lives and in our organizations. That alone should tell us that the entire landscape of HR and the organization has changed forever.

It is not going to be easy

There are no easy solutions as we come out of this near economic collapse. Organizations are sick and on the mend. Some have been deemed DOA, while others are being nursed back to health from a myriad of issues. And, some were not affected as much as others.

The sick patient has landed in the HR office and is looking for help. Become the diagnostician of your organization and heal that patient.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

Topics

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *