GEM #4 Team Consulting and Problem Solving
Team Consulting is efficient and effective.
It gives the authority to choose the corrective action with the person responsible and accountable for the specific function or project, as it ought to be.
For example, during the process of a normal management meeting, a problem is identified that caused performance to not meet Plan. Until it is resolved, progress toward the accomplishment of the Planís goals is in jeopardy. Thatís the time for
Letís assume the problem is that because of slow deliveries and increased costs of manufacturing, sales are below Plan and the year-end goal is in jeopardy of not being achieved. The Chair of the management meeting then asks the VP of Sales, "
What's your corrective action?"
The VP of Sales responds,
"I'm not sure. I don't have a specific solution in mind. I would like to use Team Consulting to give me some ideas for a possible corrective action."
Since the VP of Sales is accountable to accomplish his/her plan, he/she is granted the authority to choose the corrective action. Consequently, the VP of Sales becomes the Facilitator for the
Team Consulting sub-meeting.
Team Consulting is an effective tool that should be used
to solve problems as they arise in daily activities. Two or more persons can use
Team Consulting in just a few minutes anytime, anywhere. When a problem is confronting you, get together with others and tell them the problem. Then, tell them the goal. Then ask for their suggestions. The more you use
Team Consulting the more effective you will find it to be. It is applicable for business and personal problem solving. Try it! It works!
Team Consulting and Problem Solving Ground Rules
1. The person responsible for the area in which the problem exists facilitates the
Since this is the person who is accountable to resolve the issue, it is appropriate that this person (not his/her boss) choose the corrective action to be taken. Make sense?
2. Team Consulting Facilitator chooses a timekeeper and chooses time to be allotted.
3. Facilitator (in this case the VP of Sales) defines the apparent problem and gives the background and essential facts.
"Because of our slow deliveries and increased costs of manufacturing, sales are below Plan and the year-end goal is in jeopardy of not being achieved"
Step #4 is the most important of all. It is one that I have never found anyone using.
To me, it means all the difference. It is not what you were taught in college as the next step in the scientific problem solving sequence. Remember the steps you were taught to solve a problem? What were they? Something like this.
Define the apparent problem.
Identify any underlying problems and redefine the problem.
Brainstorm potential solutions to the underlying problem and list all options or solutions.
Develop criteria to judge solutions and evaluate all solutions to determine the best solution.
4. Instead of solving the problem, here is what to do: After the problem has been defined, next ask, "
WHAT'S THE GOAL?"
This is intended to get the management team focused on the GOAL, not the
the goal is to
"Achieve the year-end sales forecast." If management focuses on solving the problem (slow deliveries and higher manufacturing costs) instead of the goal, the management might solve the apparent problem but not accomplish the goal of getting sales back up to plan.
5. After the goal has been defined, state the "How can" question that will achieve the goal.
"How can I (or we)Ö
"Get sales back on Plan and achieve the year-end forecast."
6. Facilitator asks someone to write down ALL of the suggestions or ideas that are made.
Write all of them down so that everyone knows theirs will be given consideration.
7. Facilitator must be open to suggestionsó
LISTEN NOT BE DEFENSIVE, do not reject any ideas. The more open everyone feels, the more suggestions will be presented. Avoid discussing the merits of the suggestions. Put as many down as quickly as possible.
A defensive attitude can be intimidating and reduce input. There is no need to be defensive since the
Facilitator simply chooses only the action he/she wants.
8. Get balanced participation.
Encourage participation and recommendations from
everyone including the boss. Ask quiet members for their suggestions, as theirs often are some real gems.
9. Summarize all the recommendations. This will demonstrate that everyone has been heard.
10. Facilitator chooses the corrective action decision.
From all the possibilities suggested, the
Team Consulting chairperson chooses only the action steps he/she wants. These are recorded with specific dates for their completion and become a part of the GMT Minutes. Sometimes the Team Consulting Facilitator wants to have some time to make his/her decision for corrective action. That's OK, but an action step should be recorded at this meeting indicating when the decision is to be made and by whom.