4B. Problem solving toolkit
The tools in this toolkit provide a framework for solving problems early and rigorously. To solve problems early is to have a system in place for identifying and prioritizing the right problems to solve, before they become too big to handle. To solve them rigorously is to take the toughest problems, break them down into manageable pieces that will yield to analysis, focus on the ones that matter the most, and draw out the insights that lead to real solutions. Problem solving is a four-step process:
- Identify and prioritize the right problems to solve
- Clearly define the problems that we have prioritized
- Analyze those problems
- Develop solutions
This toolkit defines each of these steps in greater detail and provides templates and resources to guide you through problem solving. For more detail, see Chapter 4B of Deliverology in Practice.
Kit Resources Include:
4B. Problem solving toolkit overview
This document provides a guide through the rest of this toolkit. Read this first to understand the concepts covered in the rest of the kit.
4B.A. Using the levels of intensity framework to prioritize problems
If you are dealing with multiple problems at a time, this document is a great way to begin your problem solving process. The framework helps you assess problems and prioritize support based on the size and urgency of each one.
4B.B. Using the scope sheet to solve problems
The scope sheet is a great tool to use with your team to get everyone on the same page with what the problem is and what factors make it a problem. Once you have filled out this template and developed some hypotheses about the solution to your problem.
4B.C. Using the hypothesis tree to solve problems
This document guides you and your team through an exercise designed to break one big, unwieldy hypothesis into multiple smaller hypotheses, so that you can more easily investigate and prove or disprove each one. As with any of the problem solving tools, you can do this exercise on your own, but it is most effective when done with a group.
4B.D. Using the issue tree to solve problems
The issue tree is very similar to a hypothesis tree, but instead of starting with hypotheses, it forces the group to look at your current theory of action for a delivery goal or strategy. The issue tree handout will help guide you through a discussion to figure out if your challenge lies in the strategy itself or in the implementation.
4B.E. Using delivery chains to solve problems
Delivery chains are a tool that can be used for both planning and problem solving. In this tool, you’ll be guided through the process of leading an exercise with your group to investigate potential weak spots in your strategy and decide where more support and/or feedback loops are needed.
4B.F. Using story lines to solve problems
This document will guide you through filling out a worksheet to describe your problem’s solution. From there you can see what data you need to gather, and what that data needs to say to either prove or disprove your hypothesis.
4B.G. Developing a work plan to test hypotheses
This template helps you chart out what analysis needs to be done and when for your problem solving efforts. By using the work plan, you and your group can coordinate analysis efforts, and update each other on progress. As your analysis progresses, remember to update your work plan with any new hypotheses and investigation needed.
4B.H. Conducting Field Work
An ongoing piece of problem solving is collecting qualitative data through field work. This guide explains the different types of field work and helps you think through when each would be useful for your system and why.