Structured Problem Solving Techniques

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As I walked through the list of all the possible root causes of the overtime problem with each executive, I got a variety of information and opinions on where the biggest, fixable root causes were.After those meetings, I adjusted and added to my logic tree of potential root causes. Now that I had a good list of all the potential root causes, I prioritized each based on the probability of being the best answer to the problem.

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This is important because it takes work to get the data and do the analysis to test each hypothesis.

I was able to put the whole ‘Demand’ part of my logic map at the bottom of the list because of the information I uncovered in the manager interviews.

The problem had to be related to ‘Supply’ – staffing. Within the ‘Supply” side, I decided to start with an “Excessive sick leave is driving overtime” hypothesis.

My initial conversations with managers and staff led me to believe this was the best bet because it had not been looked at yet and it seemed like a logical driver of overtime. Now that I had a hypothesis, I had to figure out the things – the “assertions” – that would have to be true for the hypothesis to be true.As soon as Tableau rendered the first charts, I knew we had cracked the case with our first hypothesis. Once I had all my charts filled in and inserted in a Power Point slide deck, I showed my findings to the hospital CEO and his top deputies. I presented the findings in a provocative way to energize the managers.By being the “bad cop,” I positioned the CEO to be the “good cop” who would help them implement. The pay periods immediately after my presentation showed overtime reduced by 46%, or about million a year, from their steady pattern the year before.There are two different types of problems, ill-defined and well-defined: different approaches are used for each.Well-defined problems have specific goals and clear expected solutions, while ill-defined problems do not.I’d never worked for a hospital, so the expertise I was bringing wasn’t hospital management but a structured problem-solving method that I’d learned as a consultant. You can use these same steps to solve your challenging problems. I started by clarifying with my client the problem I was going to solve.I did this with a simple one-page introduction with three parts.Problem solving in psychology refers to the process of finding solutions to problems encountered in life.Solutions to these problems are usually situation- or context-specific.You'll get:• Practical & pithy articles on leadership, strategy, career, communications & customer service• Topics affecting your daily work• Applicable, relevant career tools• Real-world stories and examples• Laughs via snarkiness/sarcasm We offer training in leadership, communications, strategy and operations.All our courses are hands-on to help you learn to apply the methods we teach. You walk away from our classes with practical tools that make you more efficient and effective in your job.


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