Are Your Project Managers Problem Solvers?

It does not matter how good your planning is or how well you’ve put your project plan together, there will always be unforeseen circumstances that need to be resolved!

This is the eight blog by Mat-Thys in the series “Managing Projects: The Forgotten Art Of Influencing People To Get Results”

The problem-solving process is normally started when any of the following situations arise:

  • You have many issues currently and you do not know where to start, or
  • You have one ill-defined and/or performance issue and you do not know where to start, or
  • You have a technical deviation from standard and you need to find the cause of that deviation before you can make any progress, or
  • You need to find a solution for a project situation and you do not know what to do, or
  • You need to make a choice between at least two options and you do not know which one would best, or
  • You are faced with a potential risk and you do not know for sure how to mitigate it successfully.

The aim is to use a problem-solving process that provides you and your team with appropriate templates and tools to collectively, and if needed, virtually solve some problems together. Good problem-solving practices have the following characteristics:

  1. Include the information sources closest to the problem being experienced. It is not about the “best brains” but rather a case of the “most appropriate” brains.
  2. Information generated is made visible and recorded to help the team to arrive at a commonly supported answer.
  3. Inputs through collaboration are actively promoted.
  4. Ideally, an objective facilitator is used to manage the problem-solving process and its inputs.
  5. The aim and objective are to reach consensus on all aspects to foster buy-in and commitment for implementation.

Project Management should not be a jail sentence. If handled correctly with the correct training, excellent project management is one of the few ways to prove yourself and gain recognition in the organization.

Summary

One concept comes to the forefront when thinking about the successful management of projects and that is “common sense.” No one project is the same as the next one and therefore it is important to remember that there are many other skills that could be utilized to run projects effectively.

Why are some companies more successful than others?

We don’t think it’s a mystery. We think it’s the quality of thinking in the organization. They come up with innovative solutions to their problems more often than others.

-Dr. Charles Kepner

These blogs are primarily focusing on how to problem solve certain common issues with the worked and proven approaches as mentioned. This surely is not the “be all and end all” of how to manage projects.

Learn More About KEPNERandFOURIE®

This blog and this entire series of blogs were first published by Thinking Dimensions Global.

Mat-Thys Fourie
"I believe that Management would like to see their staff as skilled problem solvers, solving and restoring service issues/incidents 'first time every time', reducing company Mean Time to Restore and Mean Time To Repair cycles. This is done by providing staff with repeatable tools/templates and worked situational questions to stay on the path through organizational difficulties and barriers towards restoration and successful recovery." Dr. Matthys Fourie is a Professional Problem Solver as accredited by the Institute of Professional Problem Solvers (IPPS). He is an author of several books on Root Cause Analysis, Project Management, Problem Solving and is the co-author of the KEPNERandFOURIE® Thinking methodologies. He has over 31 years of Problem Solving and Decision Making experience helping organizations across the world solve some of their most vexing and seemingly unsolvable problems. He has worked across a wide spectrum of industries from Automotive, Financial, Manufacturing, Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical, Nuclear, Insurance, Airline, Technology, and Telecommunications. He has work in companies such as Macquarie Group, SASOL, Unisys, SITA, Barclays, RBS, NCS, Singapore Stock Exchange, BMW, VW, Cadbury Schweppes, Westpac, National Australia Bank, Department of Education NSW Australia, Kimberly-Clark, Hollister, Stihl Inc. and the U.S. Navy.