As clear as the spoon on your nose, huh?I had to deal with an issue today, and it proved to be an exercise in getting several people together to work on a problem.  Naturally, there were multiple issues involved, multiple people at fault, and convincing everyone to work on the issue at hand in a non-threatening matter to get all of the issues involved resolved was a challenge.  I realized that there were several things I actively did while working on that problem that are simple, but highly effective.  They are not necessarily obvious in the heat of the moment.

5 Tips for Effective Team Problem Solving

  1. Set an end goal.  At the end of the meeting, you hope to achieve a particular goal.  What is it?  Try to not stop until you get to that goal.  Begin with the End in Mind.  Tell others what the goal is, so you can hold each other accountable.
  2. Keep a running list of the problems that exist.  As you problem solve new ones will crop up.  Add those to the bottom of the list.
  3. Stick to one topic at a time.  Yes.  I get that most things are not simple.  There is not a single problem.  But if you try to focus on everything at once, you’re just going to get lost in the weeds.  I know my brain simply won’t let me handle fourteen different discussions at once, without losing something in the middle.
  4. Avoid casting blame.  Frankly, I don’t usually care who or what caused the problem, until later.  The first matter at hand is solving the immediate problem, and moving forward.  Inevitably, we will deal with the what caused the problem in the postmortem.  That’s not part of the current discussion, and can wait.
  5. Remain civil at all costs.  Getting all hot around the collar, and cursing at people and being a pain in the rear end is not going to get the problem solved any faster.  This gets back to my 7 tips for maintaining a professional attitude at work.  Yes.  It might make you feel better temporarily.  It also damages your reputation, and makes people not want to work with you.  I know that people that have been rude to me in the past get a slower response than people who have consistently been polite and professional under stress. I’m human after all, and I do tend to be gun shy if someone has been really nasty to me in the past.   Stuff happens, keep it civil.  You won’t regret it.  You may regret saying things later, because other people will remember them.

What are your tips for effective team problem solving?  What would you like others to know about it?