Chapter 6Solve Problems Effectively

One of your central tasks as a manager is to resolve problems. In a problem-free workplace, where everyone got their work done fluidly and seamlessly, there would be little need for managers at all.

Problems come in all shapes and sizes, and the way they should be handled varies accordingly. The last chapter, in fact, included several techniques, such as PDSA (plan, do, study, and act) cycles and agile working methods, which are useful for resolving small run-of-the-mill problems. But sometimes problems are much more substantial, causing a production line to break down, a deadline to be missed, or an important customer relationship to be mishandled. In these cases, you need a different set of techniques, and that is what we are looking at here.

Three of these techniques are about digging into visible problems to unearth the reasons they occurred in the first place: These are getting systematically to the root of a problem (#33), identifying the many possible causes of a problem (#34), and mapping business processes clearly (#35). Then we take an unusual perspective, namely solving problems by capitalizing on what's going well (#36). Finally, we discuss a people-based approach that can be relevant to several of the other techniques, namely bringing people together to solve problems (#37).

A couple of important themes cut across all these techniques. First, your role as a manager is rarely to simply pinpoint the cause of a problem and implement ...

Get Mind Tools for Managers now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.