- You and your co-workers have a meeting to discuss a new project that’s part of your strategic plan.
- The meeting runs over 15 minutes and you each leave the meeting with action items.
- As each persons begins their tasks, they have questions.
- A series of emails are exchanged on a project. Too many emails.
- You’re confused about the project, its alignment with the plan, and your role in the project. You’re left thinking, “This isn’t what we agreed to.”
In nonprofits and mission-minded businesses of every size and type, employees often aren’t in alignment — with the mission, a strategic plan, or across departments. It takes focus and clarity to ensure y’all are working from the same sheet of music. (#badcliche.)
While never intentional, different departments may have conflicting, yet complementary, goals. Or each department may believe that their goals take priority.
If left unattended, these conflicts can seem personal and stunt growth.
There’s a straightforward way to get everyone working together and creating solutions for the real issues.
In three steps, any group can begin working together on solutions more quickly. Some of us are too quick to solve problems. Other team mates, or fellow volunteers, may want to spend too long analyzing the problem. With some key questions the meeting facilitator can move the group from analysis paralysis to thorough problem solving, all while staying focused on a win-win for everyone.
This process is adapted from Ken Blanchard’s and Michael O’Connor’s book, Managing by Values. Check it out for some practical tools on how to align your values with your organization’s values.
- Define the real problem: articulate the key concerns, identify goals, and the key requirements for the solution, including additional stakeholders and expectations that need to be discussed.
- Search for solutions: brainstorm win-win ideas, choose specific solutions with deadlines and deliverables, and be clear as to which solutions are experiments, stretch goals, and/or must-haves.
- Work the new plan and evaluate: create the action plan, list the ways you’ll know that the solution is working, and follow up to see how you did.
Now it’s your turn.
Chances are you’re probably already good at some of these. Find a couple of steps in this process where you need to stretch your skills. Then invite your colleagues to try it with you. I want to hear from you on Facebook or Twitter: what steps do you take for really great problem solving?