Problem-Solving Success Tip: Everything Necessary, Nothing Extraneous
by Jeanne Sawyer
Everything necessary, nothing extraneous. Make sure you solve the problem completely, but don't get sidetracked into doing other things that, while useful, won't make this problem go away. Put those extras aside to evaluate later as other projects.
This concept applies throughout the problem-solving process, beginning when you determine the success criteria that define the end-state for solving the problem. When you set success criteria, you want to establish the minimum necessary to solve the problem. Problem-solving is not the time for stretch goals! In problem-solving, the objective is to do everything necessary to completely solve the problem, but nothing extra.
Once the success criteria are defined, you can use them to test the rest of the project for "everything necessary, nothing extraneous." For example, when you do the root cause analysis step, you can check the suspected causes against the success criteria for the problem. Ask, for each suspected cause, if eliminating the cause will help achieve your success criteria. If yes, eliminating the cause is necessary. If no, eliminating the cause is extraneous to your problem-solving effort.
Similarly, you should check all your action plans to be sure you're doing everything necessary to solve the problem, but that nothing extraneous has crept in. Watch out for the "while you're at it" temptation. Giving in to that temptation is one of the key places extras can slip in, potentially causing your whole project to fail.
Copyright 2007. Jeanne Sawyer. All Rights Reserved.
Jeanne Sawyer is an author, consultant, trainer and coach who helps her clients
solve expensive, chronic problems, such as those that cause operational
disruptions and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. These tips are
excerpted from her book, When Stuff Happens: A Practical Guide to Solving
Problems Permanently. Find out about it, and get more free information on
problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com/.