Deriving Workable Solutions Under Highly Difficult Conditions

I’d like to discuss, briefly, what I see as a natural evolution in the process of finding a “best” solution for important business issues, during difficult economic or market conditions.  Most major issues or crises within a company require that careful analysis of the problem and possible solutions be undertaken not only by the team executive but, equally importantly, by the members of the team which he or she leads. This leadership environment, which actively elicits solutions from teams, is both desirable and, in fact, essential.

The current methodology in addressing business issues is to convene a “solutions forum” or a team brain storming session to investigate the range of possible solutions with the ultimate objective being selection of the “optimal” strategy.  What I am advocating here  is a process which takes the time to not only focus on a “best” best decision, but which also allows the team and its leader to carefully listen and assess the many issues surrounding that proposed solution.  That is, not simply coming up with a quick answer, but, rather, taking a little more time to ensure that the solution selected is the best that can be implemented efficiently and which truly solves the critical issue at hand.

Each of us, as experienced leader/managers, has had to face adversity, whether it’s negative market place reaction to a product, an internal political response to an approach, or in the course of our daily lives.  In all of these instances, an essential coping skill which the best of the best leader/managers exhibit incorporates a personal capacity for resiliency. The term “resiliency” I’m discussing today means an effective leader’s capacity to respond quickly and constructively to a crisis.

When an adverse business situation arises, often without much advance warning, the natural reactions for a leader/manager and his/her team can be to fall into a series of emotional traps, ranging from deflation (feeling disappointed, mistreated, unappreciated) to victimization, which is the relegating of an individual to a feeling of helplessness and a sense of becoming a bystander trapped by circumstances.  During this victimization mindset phase a group often finds itself jumping to conclusions about the causes of the difficulty, its scope, the consequences of the issue and how long this uncomfortable situation will last. In such instances we are not simply trying to come up with a quick answer but recommend taking a little more time to ensure that the solution selected is the best that can be implemented efficiently and which truly solves the critical issue at hand during a crisis.

There are four different approaches, each with three steps, which a leader/manager should employ  to regain balance over the situation and move efficiently toward a workable optimal solution:

  1. Establish discipline and control over what’s going to happen next
  2. Develop  impact designed to favorably affect the outcome
  3. Manage the scope of the issue and limiting the negative results
  4. Minimize duration by focusing on a desired, favorable outcome.
  1. Establish control

Specifying: What facets of the adverse situation can I directly influence?

Visualizing: What would the best leader/manager I know and admire do in this circumstance?

Collaborating: Who can be most helpful to me and my team and how can I quickly get them actively involved?

The focus here is on remaining calm and developing a variety of possible solutions.

  1. Develop Impact

Specifying: In what ways can I come forward immediately?

Visualizing: How can I most quickly and effectively impact my associates?

Collaborating: How can I get the more reluctant members of my team engaged in our solution?

The focus here is on energizing ourselves and the members of our team.

  1. Manage the Scope

Specifying: How can I limit the damage in any way, large or small?

Visualizing: How can we coalesce as individuals and as a group by actively addressing the issue?

Collaborating: What can each of us do, as individuals and as a team, to contain the adversity and create new ways to move ahead?

The focus here is on engaging the team, strategizing and executing a viable solution.

  1. Minimize the duration:

Specifying: How can I make sure the team is going in the right direction?

Visualizing: What will life will be like after the crisis has passed?

Collaborating: What steps and processes can I define to move the team forward with confidence?

The focus is on quickly initiating the first tangible steps and actually initiating the proposed solution into action.

Throughout this process it is crucial that the leader/manager move the team from being cause oriented (backward looking) to solution and response oriented (forward thinking).

What results from this challenging investigative process is likely an excellent solution which is highly implementable and more likely to have an exceptional result in solving a major corporate issue.  To recap, what I am proposing is that early in the brain storming or solutions forum discussions the participants  not impose constraints on their  thinking process and, therefore, on proposed solutions. When the executive leader and his team members listen carefully to one another, assess carefully the environment in which the decision is to be implemented, and keep an open mind about the viability of solutions, the richness, breadth, and depth of possible solutions becomes clear.  It’s only after this process that the very best workable, effective solutions can be placed into action.

PACES, LLC helps senior executives and managers at all levels in facilitating strategic forums and brain-storming sessions, resulting in exceptional results for its corporate clients.  Please consider us when embarking on a decision process that has significant organizational or market positioning implications for the board, the senior executives of the firm, and the company as a whole.  We may be reached at 224.307.2466 or


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