“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
Effective problem solving, at every stage of the project life cycle, is critical to the successful delivery of projects. Simplifying or breaking down sometimes seemingly complex issue is at the heart of problem solving. The project management itself is about developing solution to a major problem, for example, constructing a new road to promote trade between cities, delivering a modernize health operation equipment to reduce surgery turn-around time etc.
Sometimes it is a wise idea to involve external parties, not originally part of the project team, in solving problems. This provides independent thoughts and expertise in problem analysis, diagnosis and resolution.
Solving problems require the following key steps:
§ Problem profile: includes problem name, owner, stakeholders and roles. Log the problem as an issue or risk to be resolved.
§ Problem definition and description: guides the problem understanding, analysis and resolution.
§ Investigation, analysis and diagnosis: brainstorm ideas, identify root causes, divide and conquer (break down into smaller parts), and propose solution options or alternatives. In doing this, separate ideas generation or options identification from ideas evaluation to ensure that several alternatives are considered towards establishing an optimized solution.
§ Test solution options: subject the solution options to quality testing and recommend or choose an optimized solution.
§ Implement solution and verify resolution.
§ Close: document the problem, solution and lessons learnt.