The Steps to Problem Structuring

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Individuals and teams facing complex problem solving for organizational strategy and performance improvement initiatives will benefit the most from this program. Focusing on frameworks and techniques for structuring problems and planning analyses, this workshop shows participants how to break down the problem-solving process into separate steps. Suddenly what seemed to be an overwhelming task now becomes more manageable.

The program walks participants through each step of the problem-structuring process using straightforward definitions, examples, and exercises. Using a customized case developed specifically for each organization, the participants, working in teams, apply the problem-structuring frameworks to the case at each step of the process. Often live team projects serve as case work. This applied learning makes the work more real and, therefore, more memorable.

“The Steps to Problem Structuring” is coupled with programs on persuasive reports and presentations to assimilate the backend communication of the answers. Conducting the analytics is not the focus of the program.

Step One: Define the Problem

After exploring the key elements of clear problem definition, participants use a template to develop their own definition of the case problem. This critical first step helps participants correctly frame the problem and enhances the thinking that supports proposal/business case writing and client/customer negotiations.

Step Two: Disaggregate the Problem

Step two breaks the problem into manageable pieces so that the problem can be analyzed thoroughly and efficiently. Here the participants are introduced to the importance of logic in structuring their problem solving. They also begin to understand the benefit to the larger team of relating parts of the analytics to the whole and thereby improving individual understanding of overall objectives. Many examples of logic trees guide the participants as they work to develop their own solution for the case. Debriefing the group solutions helps to solidify the learning.

Step Three: Conduct Issue Analysis

Using the logic trees they’ve developed in step two, participants form early hypotheses about the likely answers to the questions and compare their hypotheses to those likely to be held by the decision maker. Determining early how far apart the hypotheses of the problem solvers and decision makers are ensures that the team performs the analyses required to solve the problem and persuade the decision maker—no more, no less.

Step Four

Step four introduces the participants to work planning that is based on the issue analysis. While the issue analysis is structured according to logical groupings, the work plan groups the analyses into efficient blocks of work. The participants prioritize the tasks, indicating responsibilities, due dates, and end products as they would be captured in a complete work plan.

“Quite possibly the most impactful training of my career”

- Motorola

“Hard to offer suggestions for a course as good as this”

- Delta Corporate Strategic Planning

“Using Linda's approach to problem structuring was very logical and helpful and saved a lot of time. The issues we work with can be so large that boiling the ocean or focusing on too many details is a common problem. Linda helped us focus our analysis at the right level so when we went to do our research we were focused, but not too detailed. This helped everyone on our project understand the parameters and not waste their time”

- Consultant with Child Advocacy Nonprofit

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