November 25, 2011

Test Your Assumption with If Matrix

Recently I had an interesting discussion with an executive in charge of Sales and Distribution. It goes like this:

Me: So, what is your biggest problem right now?
Exec: We need to find out a way on how we can integrate our IT system
Me: Why would you want to integrate your IT system?
Exec: We need to get a more real time sales data, on demand.
Me: So, are you actually looking for a way to integrate your IT system, or are you looking for a more real time sales data?
Exec: Well... Both...
Me: Assume you find out a way to integrate your IT system, but it does not give you real time, on demand sales data. Are you satisfied?
Exec: Of course not, but the only way to get on demand, real time data is by integrating IT system.

At this point, he suddenly had a revelation that he had made a big assumption.

Me: Assume you find a way to get real time sales data, on demand, do you still worry about IT integration?
Exec: No - So I guess what I need is not IT integration, I need on demand, real time sales data!

It is an interesting exercise to test your understanding of your problems by going back and forth what I called the If Matrix.

If you walk through the steps, you will find out your true headache that you need to address and get rid of your assumptions.

Good luck!

November 07, 2011

Problem Solving Series 6 - Improve the Situation

Here we are, almost done.

The next step after getting a good understanding of the source and reason of our problems, we then have to move forward to finding way(s) to improve the situation. I intentionally did not use 'solve the problem' here, because in many cases, a problem can not necessarily be solved immediately, but the situation can always be improved.