Improve Problem-Solving, Information Gathering, and Understanding Intent.

Introduction: The Need for Common Sense

Business leaders often question why employees or direct reports don’t use common sense in decision-making. To help people make better decisions, we must delve into three crucial areas: solving the right problem, gathering all the available information, and understanding the intent.

  1. Solving the Right Problem: The Art of Asking the Right Questions

To prevent solving the wrong problem, make sure to:

1.1 Define the problem yourself

  • Don’t rely on someone else’s definition of the problem.
  • Encourage team members to clarify their understanding of the issue.

1.2 Stay close to the problem

  • Engage with those who have firsthand experience of the problem.
  • Encourage open communication and feedback channels.

1.3 Think about the problem from multiple perspectives

  • Foster a culture of collaboration and diverse thinking.
  • Utilize brainstorming sessions and workshops to explore various angles.
  1. Having all the Available Information: Observing, Orienting, and Analyzing

To gather all available information, consider the following:

2.1 Move the decision-making to the information source

  • Empower frontline employees to make decisions.
  • Implement a decentralized decision-making structure.

2.2 Observe and orient using John Boyd’s OODA loop concept

2.2.1 Observe

  • Continuously gather information to build a comprehensive picture.
  • Encourage team members to ask questions to understand the issue better.
  • Filter out the irrelevant “noise” to focus on critical data.

2.2.2 Orient

  • Foster a culture of self-awareness and understanding of cognitive biases.
  • Provide training and development opportunities to improve analytical skills.
  • Encourage employees to develop mental models that help replace biases and assumptions.
  1. Knowing the “Intent”: Moving Beyond Rules to Foster a Purpose-Driven Culture

Rather than relying on specific rules, understanding the intent behind decisions promotes a broader understanding that helps employees make decisions aligned with the organization’s goals.

3.1 Establish clear organizational values and goals

  • Communicate the company’s mission, vision, and values consistently.
  • Develop a shared understanding of the organization’s strategic direction.

3.2 Promote a culture of trust and empowerment

  • Encourage employees to take ownership of their decisions.
  • Provide support and guidance while allowing for autonomy.

3.3 Develop guidelines and frameworks for decision-making

  • Create decision-making frameworks that emphasize the organization’s intent and values.
  • Offer tools and resources that help employees navigate complex decisions.

Conclusion: Achieving Organizational Clarity and Empowering Decision-Making

Ask yourself these questions to determine if your team is making common-sense decisions:

  • Are they solving the right problem?
  • Do they have all the available information?
  • Do they know the intent, and is there organizational clarity?

If you find something missing in these areas, address it and empower your team to make better decisions. Embrace a culture of collaboration, open communication, and trust, and watch your organization’s decision-making processes improve.

Copyright (c) 2021, Marc A. Borrelli

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