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Solving Problems: Generating Alternatives

With the help of stakeholders, you’ve clarified the problem and identified the desired state of affairs. The next step is to generate ideas for possible solutions. Explore lots of options, but resist the urge to jump on the first solution you think of. It’s better to examine different alternatives to find a solution that’s going to work long term.

How do you generate solution options to a business problem?

And don’t try to fix things by yourself! Get as much input as you can. That way, you get ideas you may not have thought of. When you look at all the alternatives, you can be more certain that the final decision is stronger.

And just as importantly, the stakeholders will feel involved in the process — they’ll feel heard, and that’s important. When it’s time to actually implement the solution they’ll be more likely to be on board and give you the support you need.

There are several ways to get input from your stakeholders, like using one-on-one interviews. This is a great technique when you want to gather ideas from individuals or when the matter is highly sensitive and privacy is important. Another good method is surveys — either online or on paper.

I recommend using surveys to get input from people who are on different shifts, in different locations, or are simply never all in the same room together.

When there are a lot of people being impacted by the decision, or the group is diverse, an efficient way to hear the voices of many people is to use a focus group. You have a point person represent people in different departments, different locations, on different shifts, and at different levels in the organization.

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