Ask - Do NOT Tell

I've been wrestling for years now about the different Levels of Problem Solving and Implications that has on People - both from a management perspective and the viewpoint of a worker. My basic conclusion is that much more is gained by asking and not telling each other what to do. Can this apply at all levels? To stick to my own rule, I'll try to outline my arugment here, only by asking questions. You tell me if this sticks to the wall or not.

Basic criteria of progression from simple problem solving to sophisticated problem solving.

Level 1 - Can we see problem?
Level 2 - Can the individucal improve on their own?
Level 3 - Can more than one person improve together on it?
Level 4 - Can cross functional teams improve it?
Level 5 - Are we determining ways to advance HOW we improve?

Each of these criteria have practical implications which can be addressed through more questioning:

Level 1 - Do people use a factual approach to problem solving? Do they go to the workplace to see the problem? Do they use facts to understand, or emotion? Can they determine cause-and-effect? Do they get to root cause? Do they ask questions to understand what is really happening?

Level 2 - Is it enough to simply identify problems? Are people coming up with ideas to solve their problems? Do people accept their responsibility? Do we give it to them? Do we allow them to make mistakes? Are people improving themselves and their work first, before pointing out to others how to improve?

Level 3 - How do we increase our performance beyond having individuals solve problems? Do we encourage individauls to work out problems with others on their own? Do we have robust systems in place that allow individuals to improve how they work together? Are the methods used here the foundation for communication and standardization across the organization?

Level 4 - Can people see how their area and groups affect other areas and groups? Are we focused on local optimization, or systematic performance? Can people mentally jump through and into levels 1-4 quickly, making the connection between business objectives and individual solutions? Are big problems broken down into small problems? Do people understand their role when the organization tackles big problems? Have we fully developed them to meet the demands of their current role? Do they know where we need to be? Do we know where we need to be? How does this understanding translate into one cohesive problem that can be tackled by the organization? Do we know how we are going to get there? Do we know where people best fit with their current capabilities? Are we developing people so that everyone is at Level 4? Do we use the foundations created in Levels 1-3 or do we frequently try and reinvent the wheel?

Level 5 – Are leaders teaching people so that they move up the levels? Are the students able to teach others? Are we ensuring that people master one level before moving to another? Is our problem solving system complex and full of waste? Or is it simple, nimble, scalable and ready for use? Are the elements of each level present at the highest levels of problem solving? Or are they lost to time, attrition, apathy and inactivity? Do we respect the past methods used? Are we adopting principles blindly? Or are we adapting to our environment with the principles as our guide? Are upgrading everybody's problem solving skill, regardless of which level they are at? Do we put the tools first? Or do we put people first?

Conclusion: Is asking or telling better? Which method will help us understand our own problems better? Which method is going to be more likely to prompt action?

One last thought: Is this a way of putting the cart before the horse? Do we sometimes overload ourselves with the unrealistic burden to get to the highest level before we are ready?

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At August 22, 2016 at 1:55 AM , Blogger navya said...

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