About This Blog

A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Five Questions To a Solution

Five Questions To A Solution

As we advance in our organizations to leadership roles, we are approached to find solutions to a variety of situations.   I would like to share a protocol of five questions which I have adapted from my work with clients, as I help to transform their businesses.  This is a generic and simple method which can be applied to clarify a situation and support the determination of appropriate solutions.

1.       What are the Expectations?

This should precede any report or description, in order to help set the context for everyone involved.  It also should help to reveal whether the report or update is compatible with the standards of performance.  For example, if an ASQ Section provides a report of accounts, there should be expectations of a precise dollar amount, a period (last month, last quarter), and a way to validate an reconcile the expenses claimed with actual items received.  If the report is associated with a defined protocol (e.g. ASQ PAR > Performance Awards and Recognition), then some of those expectations have already been explicitly and objectively defined. 

Without clear expectations, then a report or update can take on varying forms and content.  With expectations, the report has references against which to demonstrate success or challenges.

2.       What Issues have been identified for resolution?

This summarizes what obstacles or obstructions are presently delaying or preventing the achievement or fulfillment of the intended actions.  Once raised and escalated, issues should be assigned or escalated so that they can be resolved.  By having a sense of the outstanding or open issues, a leader can prioritize what has to be fixed or corrected first, based on the impact that each issue has to overall success.

3.       What Risks show potential for a future problem?

Along with issues which have already occurred, risks can be identified predicting problems in the future.  This could be something like identifying a leaky roof on a sunny day, which while not damaging the building in the summer, could be devastating once rain and snow appear.  Rather than taking a pessimistic or negative view, risks should be elicited as a way to help improve or correct conditions or situations early before significant damage is done.  If the risk is not able to be mitigated and removed, then contingency plans should be made (i.e. tarp over the leaky roof, barrels on a scaffold to catch water that penetrates the leaky roof).

4.       What Decisions have resulted?

There should be more to a business meeting than eating lunch, drinking coffee, and determining the time and location of the next meeting.  If the right people are in attendance, then decisions are made.  These decisions should be recorded and kept on a register until they are fulfilled or implemented.  The decisions can be positive or corrective.  The health and vitality of the organization can be measured by the connection between decisions made and decisions successfully implemented. 

5.       What are the Action items?

A recommended practice is to highlight the action items, their owners (people accountable and responsible for completing the actions), and the expected completion dates (linking back to expectations).  The external dependencies should be considered with each action. 

So with these five items (Expectations, Issues, Risks, Decisions, Actions), member-leaders and participants can more objectively assess situations and progress toward solutions and fulfillment of good intentions.  If these items are captured and summarized, this information can be reviewed.  Strategic decisions can be made based on knowing and addressing these items.  Alternatively if there is no movement on these initiatives (i.e. Particular action goes for years without being completed), then it can be escalated or reassigned.

If member-leaders are receptive to this approach, then the interaction across committees, sections, regions, divisions, interest groups, and similar entities can be synthesized into a consistently constructive dialogue.  

No comments:

Post a Comment