Reminiscing on my learning from the analysis of business problems class, it’s clear that people and businesses find themselves in complex situations. Often businesses get to a crossroads that required strategic intervention to survive. Before applying any kind of strategy, it is important to understand the differences between the types of problems we are facing.
We often hear that society is going through increasingly complex problems. Climate change, humanitarian disasters, the energy transition; businesses having a financial crisis. Complex situations are difficult to solve, for one solution triggers other problems, or every benefit to one party in the system might negatively affect others. It causes the problems to be, as we call them: complex. Let’s consider the following question:
What makes a situation complex?
A complex situation has the following attributes
- It has many variables and many perspectives
- It requires systems thinking
- Interdependencies and interrelationships of facts and perspectives
When dealing with complex situations, the considerations often include:
The scope of the problem
The impact of the problem
The resources available to solve the problem
Potential changes to the situation
The impact of optimal solutions
Ways of implementing solutions
The method of measuring solution success
Having considered the above points, the below steps should be considered to proffer solution in complex business situations
1. Identify the problem and its cause
In a complex situation, it’s often helpful to clearly identify the problem and determine its cause. Understanding what caused the problem is an important part of making informed decisions about your potential solutions. To do this, consider gathering relevant data, isolating possible contributing factors, and deciding which aspects need to be addressed in your solution.
2. Consider the impacts of the problem
When solving a complex problem, it’s important to understand the impacts of the problem on the surrounding environment and individuals. By understanding the negative effects of the problem, you may be able to prioritize solutions based on results that most alleviate these impacts. To determine the impacts of the problem, you may consider things like:
The problem’s effect on the well-being of others
The problem’s tendency to cause delays in productivity
The problem’s tendency to hinder communication
The problem’s tendency to decrease efficiency
The problem’s effect on production quality
The problem’s effect on costs
3. Brainstorm solutions
Once you understand the impacts of the problem, it may be easier to brainstorm solutions that most effectively address the effects. Brainstorming solutions to a complex situation often involves teamwork. You may also need to consider more than one solution or a series of changes to your current practices to achieve your desired results. Skills that may be helpful when brainstorming solutions include:
4. Consider the impacts of solutions
While brainstorming possible solutions, it’s important to consider the impacts the solutions may have on the surrounding environment and involved individuals. To determine the impact of a solution, you may consider the same items you used to determine the impact of a problem.
5. Choose the most optimal solution
To successfully solve a complex problem, it’s important that the solution does not have more negative impacts than the original problem. To choose the most optimal solution, consider the pros and cons of each of your options and compare them to the impacts of the original situation. This may help you more easily determine which of your potential solutions offers the most benefits.
In some cases, it may be helpful to seek a second opinion when deciding on an optimal solution. Someone else may be able to view the potential solutions from a new perspective and may provide valuable insight into your decisions.
6. Implement a plan
After determining which of your potential solutions is most optimal, you may begin planning ways to implement the solution. In the workplace, this may involve changes in policies, practices, or procedures, developing new means of communication, restructuring project management techniques, purchasing new equipment, or altering manufacturing methods.
7. Prepare for changes
It’s important to use predictions to prepare for changes to your solution. To do this, consider variables in your process or hypothesis about unexpected events and think of additional solutions to help you proactively adjust your strategy.