|People yearn for simplicity. Whether it’s in- or outside work, contending with multifarious obligations, considerations, opportunities and challenges can be overwhelming.|
1 – Framing the question
- Why does this (issue/problem/opportunity) matter?
- Are we clear about our ‘context’ – what’s going on that influences – or is influenced by – this issue?
- Can we define what we’re trying to achieve? Doing this precisely enough is easier said than done.
- Who’s important?Who are the stakeholders, why do they matter?
- How will we know that we’ve solved the problem, or been successful?
2 – What do we already know?
- Have we looked at this before?
- What & who might be able to provide a historical context? Are there learnings from other similar problems?
- What can we filter out / discard?
- The better defined the problem is, the easier the process of purging irrelevant material.
3 – What don’t we know?
- What knowledge gaps do we have?
- Which gaps matter and which ones don’t?
- How can we fill the gaps? For example, by getting more information/insight, or by agreeing to make some assumptions.
4 – Synthesise & loop back
- Refer back to the problem/issue as we defined it; looking across our information, do any obvious ideas/hypotheses jump out that could help us solve the problem we defined?
- Can we test these ideas/hypotheses out using the information we collected?Can we ditch any ‘nonstarters’?
- Do we need to loop back and get more info to test out the more promising ideas/hypotheses?
5 – Options & recommendation
- What options do we have? Never forget, doing nothing is always an option (even if it’s not always an attractive one)
- Based on the problem as we’ve defined it, which options are feasible, which can be discounted?
- What’s the best option to solve our problem and that’s acceptable to our stakeholders?
- How do we secure the support & resources we need to drive our recommendation into action? How do we demonstrate the quality of thinking that’s led us here?
6 – Into action