The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

6 Steps to Team Problem-Solving From Start to Finish

questionIn their session “Getting the Band to the Show When the Bus Breaks Down: A Team Problem-Solving Strategy for Managers” at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo 2015, California Institute of Technology’s April Castañeda, executive director of human resources, and Susan Conner, director of employee and organizational development, shared six simple steps to tackle organizational problems from start to finish.

  1. Identify the problem. Institutions should be seeking solutions to fix processes, services or systems that are broken to make them better, faster and more convenient. Once the problem is identified, solutions can begin to form.
  2. Castaneda and Conner shared five rules for brainstorming — 1) There are no bad ideas. 2) Brainstorming is not a debate. 3) Build on other people’s ideas. 4) Quantity is more important than quality. 5) The more creative the ideas, the better the solution in the end.
  3. Identify values and style. Using the institution’s mission and values statements, analyze where the department or institution is, where it would like to be and how best to get there.
  4. Analyze and select options. Detail the benefits versus the risks of each option. Then, determine which options are feasible and align with organizational values. After the options have been narrowed, eliminate the ones that require too many resources and expenses.
  5. Implement an action plan. Create an action plan and timeline that outline the objectives, tasks, time frame and resources needed, including critical stages and key actions.
  6. Evaluate the project. Once the project has been implemented, examine the original goal and consider the results and whether the problem has been solved.

Are you using problem-solving strategies to tackle tough issues on campus? If so, what have been your challenges in implementing change?