You know how important it is to analyze an operation or practice to determine where weaknesses can occur and then shore up these weaknesses or, better yet, develop procedures without such flaws.
In short, as a savvy leader, you recognize that the best approach to problem solving is to avoid a serious problem in the first place. Early problem detection and better problem solving demand that you: Encourage Initiative The manager gives truth to his or her talk of shared goals and leadership by allowing staff members to step out of their boxes and demonstrate in a supportive environment their personal creativity.
Just as in marketing, in which groups of potential customers are brought together to give feedback on a new product idea—focus groups—in problem solving you might want to hold focus groups with employees or those affected by a problem to get their ideas about the cause.
There are a number of other techniques that can also be used.
Choose the Best Solution If you can, in any problem-solving effort, pretest your better ideas to identify the best.
If you can’t run small pilot tests first, then choose the best idea, adjusting it as circumstances require.
As a manager, you practice preventive management for just this reason.
You understand how problems often can be identified in their early stages, even avoided.
One helpful bit of advice is to write a problem statement down.
Begin it with the words “how to,” then complete it with an appropriate verb.