This week’s focus:
Solve problems – GROW them
Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying that you can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that caused it. That makes sense – and yet we almost naturally set out to solve our problems the same way we caused them; and many a team discussion has actually made the problem worse!
One of the reasons is that, as individuals or teams, we don’t follow a decision-making or problem-solving process. As a result, we tend to pick the first reasonably sounding potential solution that arises, without any thought as to whether it’s the best or not.
Perhaps the most widespread and well-known process is the G.R.O.W. method – nice and easy because even I can remember what the acronym stands for. There are many others but GROW is one of the most flexible and therefore implementable over a variety of everyday problems:
- G is for Goal – What are we trying to achieve here? What are we trying to achieve in this meeting? What is the (real) issue here? Be careful, “Goal” shouldn’t be taken literally – rather give it a wide definition that explains what you are trying to achieve in the moment?
- R is for Reality – once again, not a literal interpretation (eg it is not about reality testing); rather it is about collecting information around the G. What data (as opposed to interpretation and opinion) are we dealing with here? And what emotions are present? (So, in terms of the quote above, Einstein would spend 55 minutes of the hour on G and R! The more thoroughly G and R are discussed, the easier O and W are.)
- O is for Options or Opportunities – brainstorm as many options (hypothetical, funny, or real) as possible; avoid discussing or evaluating or selecting any of them until they are all out on the table.
- W is for Way Forward – discuss the options on the table by understanding which options are relevant to the criteria that need to be applied in the circumstances. Applying the criteria, which options best fit the solution? Once you’ve got the possible solution, only then evaluate or discuss it – what obstacles might arise if this solution is implemented? How might we overcome these? If we can’t, what’s the next best solution? Once we have the solution that fits best, design an action plan to implement it.
Now that’s not so difficult is it! We just have to remember to GROW our solutions!
Monday Morning Perspective: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”