It’s truly amazing how corporate culture hinders the ability to solve problems. It’s of no fault of anyone. It’s simply the structure of the culture. But it can be changed. Your culture can be one that celebrates problems and solves problems with ease.
Most organizations see problems as…. well… problems. While some organizations see problems as opportunities. At 3C we love problems. Problems are what make us better. When we solve a problem we feel incredibly powerful as an organization and we see how by removing the problem, we are better for it. Yet we understand why this is not the case in so many companies…. because it’s hard to keep track of what the problem is… never mind the possible ways to solve it.
The problem with problem solving is that things keep changing.
People move positions, the company shifts priorities, there are multiple departments and so many other variables that keep changing. We won’t even mention the variety of perspectives from multiple departments… each department having its own set of changes.
At 3C, we have a process that manages what we call variable variation. It’s based on a way of thinking that I’ve been using since my Mensa days in school. I remember the tests and the importance of focusing on and organizing what was known about the problem… and doing it quickly. Most problems can be solved using only whats known. But don’t tell that to the VP of Research. Companies have become deeply reliant on trying to know what they don’t.
The first requirement to solving a problem is to empower a leader. This leader must remain constant until the problem is solved. The role of this leader is to focus on, and organize, what is known about the problem. They talk to people with the same set of questions, the same set of assumptions and the same everything. They don’t change. Now that you have managed the first critical variable in problem solving by having 1 leader who operates in 1 fashion… the right leader will quickly see patterns in the data.
A great example of what it means to manage variable variation is in how Elon Musk remembers what he studies or hears. He said it best…
“One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”
What Elon does is similar to how we manage variable variation. He looks for the most fundamental principle of any subject matter. He doesn’t focus on the separate smaller aspects (or variables) of what he interacts with… he naturally looks for consistency.
As example ; all the A’s are different… but fundamentally they are the same. They are all A’s. What Elon does first is that he remembers the fundamental first variable. That he is looking at A’s. When you remember the first variable, you remember everything which branches of the first variable.
The leader in problem solving must use this approach. They must look at the fundamentals in a problem first. The fundamentals must be controlled in order to look at the next level of the problem…. otherwise they will miss finding the solution.
If you would like access to all of the steps in how 3C approaches problem solving… then send me an email and I will have them provided to you.