There is a problem solving methodology called TRIZ the theory of inventive problem solving that I have been using with organizations, teams, and mangers for 2 years now. By no means am I an expert, continuing to learn and apply.
The methodology works because it is pragmatic. Guiding the user with the problem to be solved through a series of steps to identify some generic solutions, that have already been identified through ways that others have solved similar problems. Using these generic solutions they can better, through their own context of work, apply these solutions to solve their problems and determine specific solutions to apply, test and use.
But don’t we need to know the specific root cause(s) in order to solve the real problem?
Not necessarily, knowing the root cause(s) increases your knowledge of the root cause, that does little to define the solution you need.
Look at the illustration below:
- Which string should the mouse follow to get to the cheese?
Instead of using a system of trial and error the simplest way is to start at the cheese and follow the path back to the mouse. By identifying the solution first, What we want to have happen, an easier path to the solution can be found.
With TRIZ we find out what the solution looks like / what we want to have happen / if the problem is not occurring what is happening instead … based on how your team and others have solved similar problems before, then work with the team to understand how that solution can apply to their problem and identify steps that are analogous to what has worked in the past and what needs to be improved in the present into the future.
Below is a generic model of how the TRIZ tools operate. You can read about this model at The TRIZ Journal
The team / I have a problem –> Who else has problems like ours?; When have we had problems like this in the past? –> How did others solve similar problems?; How did we solve the similar problems? –> The team / I have a solution
What do you think?
Do you use TRIZ? Which string led to the cheese? In what ways could finding how others solved problems be helpful to you?