Prior to my MBA program, I had worked in a technical area where my problem-solving was limited to using technology as default in solving problems. Identifying manual processes and automating them for efficiency gains.
What I learned so far in LBS MBA has taken my knowledge of problem-solving to a higher level of understanding and application. Analysis of Business Problems course raised the bar for me, from solving manual process automation to solving problems that can make or mar an organization or business.
A Systemic Approach
In the Analysis of Business Problems course, I learned about the systematic approach to solving simple or complex problems. Making decisions that are rational, optimal, and implementable rather than making decisions based on emotions or instinct. The approach enabled me to understand how to gather and manage information and help me to minimize cognitive bias that can often plague my decisions.
In identifying and gathering information, I learned how to gather relevant information. The key thing being the “H and the 5 whys”. That’s the What, Why, When, How, Where, and Who. Once I have been able to identify the key facts from all information that is available to me, then I learned how to use these key facts to form the background information.
I learned about using the key facts identified in the background information phase to create the problem decision. Avoiding confusing symptoms with problems or confusing coincidence with the problem. I can liken this last statement to the case study “Can you analyze the Problem” an HBR May-June 1965 case study. Where the Union issue which coincided with a blurred panel problem was presumed by the management to be the problem they are facing. This is a typical example of where a coincidental issue was almost being taken as the root cause.
In the next phase of the systematic approach, I learned how important it is to be clear about the goals to be achieved. Where do we want to be as an organization or business, in the face of the current situation? What will I rather have? Once I have clear objectives or vision of where I want to be, then I move to the next stage.
This next stage made me understand that before I can make a choice, I need to come up with alternatives, possibilities, or options that will enable me to reach my goals, and vision identified as my objective in the previous phase.
Having identified my alternatives, I learned that I would need to come up with criteria that each of my alternatives or options must meet in trying to reach my objectives. The criteria will help me focus on the important things and help me not to incline to an option.
The next thing I learned in the systemic approach is to evaluate my criteria against my alternatives or options. Examining both quantitative and qualitative issues or parameters.
Finally, I will use the outcome of my evaluation to make a choice or take a decision on the one that fulfils my objective. I also learned that the analysis does not end when you make a choice. I need to develop an action plan of what needs to be done and who will do what, in the action plan to implement the choice I made. Closing with identifying the risk that will arise based on the choice I made. I learned that there are no right or wrong answers in the Analysis of business problems. That my evaluation and judgment must be based on facts that the case study has provided, or I have gathered as part of information gathering.