In this episode, Sinikka Waugh shares a problem solving approach to take you through incovering the right problem, identifying the right solution, and putting the right plan into action.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • Why problem solving is a critical skill
  • How to uncover the right problem and find the right solution
  • What you can do to put your plan into action

Show Notes

Problem solving is a vital skill, regardless of your role or level in the organization.  Without  an effective problem solving approach, you will likely treat the symptoms instead of the underlying cause and have little positive impact.

A problem is anything preventing you from going where you want to be next.  This can be at an individual, team, or organizational level.

The Right Stuff problem solving approach involved identifying the right problem, uncovering the right solution, and creating an action plan to enable that solution.


The Right Problem

When beginning any problem solving, bring others in to get diversity of thought.  Once you include others, start with the Five Whys technique by asking ‘why’ five times.

The focus should be on why the problem exists.  For each answer to the Five Whys, ask ‘why’ five more times.  For each of those, you can ask ‘why’ five more times.

From that rapid list of many causes, patterns and commonalities will likely emerge.  Focus on the items that you can solve, want to solve, and should solve.  Those common themes are the right problem to solve.


The Right Solution

Once you identify the right problem to solve, brainstorm to identify possible solutions.  Go for quantity at first without filtering of judgment.

After you have a list of solutions, you can narrow down the list to those that are feasible and vote on the top solutions to explore.

For each feasible solution, gather information and find the solution with the best BODI.  The acronym BODI stands for Benefits, Obstacles, Data, and Instinct.


The Best BODI

To discover the solution with the best BODI, make a chart for each potential solution to list the benefits, obstacles, data, and instinct information.

  • Benefits: What are the benefits of this solution?
  • Obstacles: What are the obstacles associated with this solution? What could potentially prevent it from being successful?
  • Data: What data do we have about this solution? Do we have data that makes sense to us?
  • Instinct: Do we believe this is a right solution for us right now?

Complete the benefits, obstacles, and data for each solution, and then see what your instinct tells you about each option.  Is it a right solution for now?

You want to find the solution with the best benefits, fewest obstacles, and that your instincts tell you that this is a good choice.


The Right Action Plan

To be successful in any action, you need to know what, why, and how.  The previous steps of identifying the right problem and solution as well as uncovering the benefits tells you the what and why.

The well thought out ‘why’ also helps get the right people involved once you take action.  Additionally, you’ve already discovered risks when you identified obstacles, so you can work to address those risks.

Now that you have the what, why, and associated risks, you can focus on the how – executing your plan.  You can also use the data you identified earlier to help drive the action plan.

See the links section for introductory worksheets and materials from Sinikka to help you solve problems.

Listen to the full episode to understand how to implement Sinikka’s problem solving approach.



Your Homework

Include others in your problem solving approach.  Include others in the process and time box the approach to finding the right solution to the right problem.


Links mentioned in this episode:

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh

Your Clear Next Step

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. As a project manager, business analyst, facilitator, trainer, and coach, Sinikka is known for consistently helping teams find innovative ways to solve problems and get things done.


Thank you for listening to the program

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