Solving Problems (Possible Blog Content) draft 1
[First para] Solving problems is what subject matter experts do. It can be both highly rewarding and highly frustrating. Many experts get stuck in this cycle of solving, because they don’t deploy higher level techniques to make problem solving fulfilling and less repetitive.
The more specialists we are, the more problem solving is a big part of what we so as subject matterexperts. It is very rewarding when it’s a truly interesting challenge, we have good information to work with and others commit to what they need to do – funding, additional effort, and so on. Conversely, it can be frustrating when it feels like we’re getting an incomplete or problematic brief or when we realise that what needs to be done far exceeds others’ willingness to adequately support our recommendations (dollars, time, etc.).
What separates problem solving mastery from simply “answering the exam question”?
Typically, functionally-minded experts inquire about technical requirements – what is needed, when, technical specifications. Master Experts, those operating at the highest levelk of e3xpertise, focus more on pragmatic outcomes – asking some deliberately worded and powerful questions:-
• What issues is the organisation experiencing for want of…. (specified solution)?
• What outcomes are you hoping to achieve as a consequence of…. (implementing specified solution)? • How might we best measure/quantify…. (those issues/outcomes)? • What is the economic or community value of the uplift in the associated measures? Such questions generally uncover the broader context and other factors that need to be included to ensure the solution actually delivers value. They lessen the likelihood of our giving the requestor exactly what they asked for but it failing to deliver the desired outcomes. And they also help both parties build a business case - the economic/community gap between what’s happening today and what they want (to offset the investment of time and money that successful implementation will require) – and provide explicit criteria that can be used in an impact report to illustrate value add post-implementation. Failing to ask such questions merely to be obliging risks our shaping solutions that:- • Miss the mark • Never even make it past the approval stage – or get scaled back to meet inadequate budgets inevitably leading to weakened impact • Never even having our recommendations move forward because the business case is too intangible • A damaged personal brand because, somehow, we’re held responsible – though we did the best we could with the steer we got, the information and funding available, etc.
Mastering Solutioning in a nutshell:- • Get to the underlying “business/community context” • Uncover relevant measures to be impacted • Ensure the necessary business case for adequate investment of time, effort and money is compelling • Report outcomes