In my last blog, I talked about how you can play Charlie’s Angels—I mean, CIA Agent—when tackling problems in your organization.
You can use the CIA’s Problem Definition Checklist to help define the problem, and that’s a hugely important first step.
But what happens next?
Charlie’s Angels wouldn’t have been a very good TV show if all the Angels did was sit around talking about the problem of the week.
What we all tuned in to see was how these darling detectives would actually solve the case—and more often than not, the Angels would go undercover to gather the clues they needed to solve their case.
Sometimes, one of them would get in trouble, and the other two would have to step in to rescue her just in the nick of time.
While you probably won’t be impersonating roller derby dolls or beauty pageant contestants to get to the bottom of your organization’s issues, it does help to go undercover a little bit and think about the problem from lots of different angles.
The CIA has a second set of questions that can help you step into your undercover roles.
• What would you like the resolution to be? Can you picture it? — Step into the role of one of your residents or different staff members; is your picture of the best solution the same as theirs?
• What have others done? — Try on the role of staff members or even other organizations to see if other people’s ideas might change how you think about the problem.
• How will you know when you are successful? — This is an important one to look at from many different points of view. A leader’s standard of success for a given problem might be very different from a resident’s idea of success or a staff member’s, even on the same issue.
Leave No One Behind
The CIA’s list of questions also helps ensure that no one gets left behind.
By using the checklist to specify what should be done, how it should be done, when, where, how, and who should do it, you eliminate any uncertainty surrounding the problem and make it easy for the appropriate staff to carry out the solution.
How often have you come up with something in a meeting that seemed like the perfect fix, only to have it fall apart in implementation?
Making sure to answer all the questions below eliminates any doubt and can help get all appropriate team members on board with the solution.
Questions for the Plan
1. Can you solve the whole problem? Part of the problem?
2. What would you like the resolution to be? Can you picture it?
3. How much of the unknown can you determine?
4. Can you derive something useful from the information you have?
5. Have you used all the information?
6. Have you taken into account all essential notions in the problem?
7. Can you separate the steps in the problem-solving process? Can you determine the correctness of each step?
8. What creative thinking techniques can you use to generate ideas? How many different techniques?
9. Can you see the result? How many different kinds of results can you see?
10. How many different ways have you tried to solve the problem?
11. What have others done?
12. Can you intuit the solution? Can you check the result?
13. What should be done? How should it be done?
14. Where should it be done?
15. When should it be done?
16. Who should do it?
17. What do you need to do at this time?
18. Who will be responsible for what?
19. Can you use this problem to solve some other problem?
20. What is the unique set of qualities that makes this problem what it is and none other?
21. What milestones can best mark your progress?
22. How will you know when you are successful?
Wrap it Up
Of course, the Angels could wrap everything up in 30 minutes, week after week, but the best part of the show was always when the Angels were all safe, successful, and back in the office, celebrating a job well done with Charlie.
Your problems might take more than 30 minutes to solve, but be sure to take the time to celebrate your team’s successes—which will be much easier to define when you follow this checklist!