How to Solve Critical Problems in Ten Minutes

​Companies get stuck all the time. So do people. They get trapped in a constraint, don’t know what to do, and don’t know where to go for help. The good thing is, you don’t have to stay stuck. You can innovate, find new solutions, and expand your options in just a few minutes – and you already have the tools.

A Vital Factors team consult is a brainstorming tool that can help you and your team out of any difficult situation. It’s a three-step process that brings multiple options into play, and allows you and your team to provide and act on meaningful feedback. Here’s how it works.

When a team member is stuck on a problem that seems to have no successful solution, and they feel they’ve exhausted all possibilities, it’s time for a team consult. The team gathers in a brief meeting, and goes through the following steps.

·         Define the Problem (2 minutes)

·         Timed Brainstorming (6 minutes)

·         Choose 2-3 Solutions to Try (2 minutes)

First, the individual that’s stuck defines the problem and the goal, specifying what they’re trying to accomplish and where they’re stuck. That definition should be tight, and the problem should be stated in an obvious and detailed manner, including the basic steps that the individual has already taken to try to solve the issue – and how those attempts failed.

Next, then the group proceeds to do a timed brainstorming exercise. While one member of the team is writing everything down, the group begins to brainstorm, contributing information and ideas towards alternate solutions or innovative ideas to address the problem. The important part of this exercise is that no commentary is allowed; no one may critique any idea, and everyone is welcome to suggest unique and unexpected solutions. No debate, no criticism, just feedback, feedback, feedback.

Lastly, in the third part of this exercise, the person with the initial problem looks at all the suggestions and ideas, and chooses 2 or 3 that they’re going to work on for the next 30 days, to try and get unstuck. If those ideas fail, others may be chosen from the list, or the team may want to meet and go through step two once more, with updated information about these attempts and the continuing issue.

That’s the power of constraint. I’ve found that if you perform this process, after 5-6 minutes, with no debating, the team will hit upon several potential solutions – one of which will stick. Try it yourself, and I bet you’ll find the path you need to solve even your most critical business problem.

So, what problem do you need to solve today?


​ The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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