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STOP Solving Problems and START Thinking Strategically

What happened during the last team meeting in which you attempted to solve a wicked problem? Did solutions appear quickly in the meeting? Did these solutions end up solving the problem? Did the team create value?


If your experience is like that of most leaders, you have seen individuals and teams jump to solutions within minutes, if not seconds, of the start of a meeting. Either confrontation and conflict or concession and quiet ensues until the leader makes a call to move forward. Once implemented, all too often the leader learns with chagrin that the solution solved the wrong problem (or no problem at all). In the wake of a failed solution, the organization must circle back and start over, wasting time and money, experiencing frustration and finger-pointing.


Among the many facets of leadership, solving the wrong problem is among the most common, costly, and, consequential. Research shows that even the best leaders and their teams end up solving the wrong problem 75% of the time or more. No approach to leadership can succeed if the wrong problem gets solved most of the time. Leaders who master thinking strategically will reduce circling back, conserve time and money, and avoid the frustration and conflict that eats away at the foundations of a positive organizational culture. Given the magnitude of these organizational benefits, finding a way to solve the right problem the first time is a strategic imperative.


This program introduces a new way to think, which is at the core of critical thinking. The program offers a set of processes and tools to dramatically increase the likelihood — and, hence, batting average — of solving the right problem the first time. Doing so avoids excessive and crippling organizational costs. Mastery of thinking, processes, and tools makes a leader and their team more agile, effective, and efficient. 


Based on an award-winning curriculum, this program begins by developing an appreciation for the attributes of wicked problems and how to recognize them. Wicked problems embody complexity and some, if not substantial, novelty.  This recognition is important, because wicked problems are the ones that can easily spark thinking traps that prompt solving the wrong problem. 


Six impediments and biases are the primary source of the thinking traps that cause people to quickly think of and push solutions to old problems, instead of figuring out the formulation of the wicked problem in front of them. These thinking traps unfold in almost every meeting and even when thinking alone. Being able to recognize these thinking traps in real time and intervene is an important first step and achievable skill.


To avoid these thinking traps altogether, the program introduces several processes and tools that guide how individuals and teams can formulate wicked problems “comprehensively”.  Each of these processes and tools is designed specifically to avoid the thinking traps and figure out the right problem to solve. Indeed, comprehensive formulation before trying to solve the problem is the crucial pathway to solving the right problem and reaching unanimity — not just consensus — in a team.


Mastery of the formulation and solving of wicked problems for oneself as well as for a team can transform one’s leadership ability. This transformation manifests not only in solving the right problem the first time, but also in improving team agility, effectiveness, and efficiency.


Typical Program Schedule


Day 1:  (2-hours)  Content delivery

Day 2:  (2-hours)  Content delivery

Day 3:  (2-hours)  Optional consulting experience

Day 16: (1-hour)  First EPC meeting, one for each team

Day 30: (1-hour)  Second EPC meeting, one for each team

Day 44: (1-hour)  First meeting of micro-learning community peer coaching meetings

Day 60: (1/2-hour)  Learning reflection and assessment meetings, one for each team

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