You may have heard the expression, “If it wasn’t a challenge, it wouldn’t be an opportunity.” Challenges — problems — they’re a fact of business, a fact of life. But they’re more. Solving problems in the workplace, making the right business decisions — that’s what creates the opportunity for success.
How do you begin to identify the root cause of a problem?
The first step in solving a problem is to understand the scope — and its likely impact. You need to understand who is affected by the problem and who can do something about it. These are the stakeholders, and you begin by talking to them.
Let’s say you’re the supervisor of IT for a corporate travel agency. The agency’s reservation system has gone down, and with every hour that passes, the business is losing customers — and that means money. You report to the chief operations officer who, in turn, reports to the CEO. The pressure is on to get the software fixed, and it’s intense. It’s daunting. But you keep your cool and start by making a list of stakeholders.
So who are the stakeholders?
As a process owner, you may also be the final decision maker, though that’s not always the case. In this case, for example, your boss or even the CEO may have to sign off on whatever solution you come up with.
But you can’t do it all by yourself. There are many others who can either help the problem-solving process…or even block your way. I call these persuaders — you may have also heard them called sponsors. They tend to be people who have influence with or oversee areas of the business that need to be part of the solution.
You may decide, after a quick inspection, that the problem with the travel agency’s reservation software is too complicated for an internal solution — and you want to get a high-level IT consultant on board as quickly as possible. For that you need a budget — and a persuader will be your head of finance, who may or may not want to release sufficient funds to get the caliber of consultant you need.
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