When I saw this as part of the courses for my MBA program, I thought, oh, this should be a walkover. But delving into this course in detail, it does not seem as straightforward as I had thought. It became more difficult.
I remember the first case we analyzed Burred Panels. After analyzing the case, it seemed very easy after the first read, but as I read further it became complicated although I arrived at “a conclusion”. I was very confident about how I had analyzed the case; I was ready to prove it to the world. Unfortunately, after the lecturer guided us on the analysis of the case, my shoulders dropped. Then I realized I was in for something big.
Business problems are often obvious but as humans, we tend to overthink situations, we focus on the symptoms of a problem rather than the actual cause, the reason problems keep recurring even after we feel we have resolved it.
Analysis of business problem course at the Lagos Business School is one of the most mind-boggling courses I have ever attended. It requires deep critical thinking.
Critical thinking is responsible thinking that yields good judgment because it is sensitive to context, relies on criteria, and is self-correcting. It entails thinking about your thoughts, while you are thinking to make your thinking better.
When faced with a problem, we need to ask questions continuously to ascertain the root cause of the problem. As humans, we make a lot of assumptions, usually subconsciously, but this serves as a barrier to making sound judgments.
Now, to solve a problem, we need to understand what a problem is. A problem is a gap between what a situation should be and what it currently is. It is worthy of note that this gap can be an opportunity as well as a deficiency. To identify the root cause, we can adopt the 5W and 1H methods which include what, why, when, who, where, and how.
- Why is it happening?
- When did it start?
- Who is it happening to/ who is it affecting?
- Where is it happening?
- What is the cause?
- How is it affecting your business/ to what extent?
We are likely to identify what the problem is if we can answer all these questions correctly. On identification of the problem, we then decide what we intend to achieve by identifying the problem – the objectives.
Once the objectives are identified, plausible alternatives to solving the problem should be determined. To choose among them, we need to weigh the alternatives based on criteria peculiar to the business or the industry it operates. Most often, these criteria center around financial, ethical, and socio/psychological factors. If done logically, it is very likely to arrive at the most reasonable decision.
Finally, as problem solvers, we need to be good at asking the right questions, good listeners and we might require some mathematical skills as well. Once we have acquired these skills, most of our problems are half-solved.