April 24, 2011

Problem Solving Series #2 - Begins with the End in Mind

Stephen Covey said, "Begins with the End in Mind" in the journey of becoming a highly effective person. Jim Womack said, "(A lean enterprise) Specify value from the standpoint of your end-customers."

Mankind is wired in such a way that it will be driven forward by its value.

Although sometimes we forgot.

A good case study to learn from would be the fall and re-birth of Starbucks. Professor John Quelch framed the dilemma Starbucks faced as a question of positioning: If Starbucks wants to be the king of retail chain, then forget premium positioning, it needs to cut the price. However, if Starbucks wants to maintain its neighborhood, cozy store where people hang out in and actually be a 'lifestyle', then its expansion strategy needs to be scrapped and rethought. (See his complete note at his HBR Blog here). Starbucks found itself solving the wrong problems.

Thankfully, Howard Schultz have since then navigated the giant into safe water and the company is now ready to move forward.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its SoulYou might be interested in read his struggle and personal insights on this matter in his latest books Onwards.

You will find that Schultz started his journey by identifying the real pains that they are currently feeling.

He goes back to basic and to his original passion, the real reason he started the company in the beginning. He begins with the end in mind.

There are several things we can learn about when we want to identify the reason of solving any problem - which is step 1 of IDOAIM - Identify the Pain:
  1. What do you value most in your current job / business? Why are you even in the business / working here?
  2. What gives you the most satisfaction in your organization / business / career? Why?
  3. What are you thinking about most often in a day? Why?
  4. If a problem you have is solved, what would you think give you the most satisfaction? Is it related to the feeling of being able to defeat your enemy, happy because the money can now keep coming, being able to live healthily / enjoy life, or happy because now people can recognize you as someone in your organization?
  5. What is the worst that can happen if you don't solve your problems to the company, to the organization, to you?
These questions can help us learn about values and understand which problem to solve and give us the perseverance we need to stay on the problems until it is solved. If we can frame our values and identify our reasons properly, then we have a good starting point to continue our learning organization transformation journey.

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