Based on your responses, your organization is moderately prepared to design effective solutions for its complex organizational problems—but there is room for improvement.
It is clear that your organization has seen some successes and some failures with its current solution design processes.
With any complex organizational problem, failure to find the “perfect” solution is to be expected. But what sets successful solution design teams apart is their ability to step back, reflect on the experience, and make the necessary changes to avoid those same pitfalls in the future.
Have you found that your solution designers excel at crafting brilliant solutions, but struggle to engage and influence stakeholders? Once a solution is designed, presented, and approved, do you find that it regularly falls apart at the implementation stage? These are common issues organizations face. To increase your chances of repeated success, it is prudent to learn from the people who have traveled this road before you.
To refine your organization’s approach to solution design, consider these three strategies from our book From Problem Solving to Solution Design. These tips will help you as you grapple with your next complex problem.
1. Create a Stakeholder Engagement Plan
By their very nature, complex problems involve numerous stakeholders. Many people have the impulse to address all stakeholders equally, but oftentimes time and other resources are such a constraint that you will need to prioritize which of those stakeholders will require more of your attention, what actions you will need to take to get them on your side, and the degree of urgency you will need to apply to the latter.
Good solution designers carefully map out their recommended solution’s stakeholders—their names, their position in the organizational chart, their roles and responsibilities, their level of support for the solution—and thoroughly identify their objections as well as their individual motivations to support or oppose each recommended solution. Great solutions designers go beyond that, taking the extra time to decipher each stakeholder’s level of interest in the decision-making process, carefully assessing which stakeholders have the power to influence it.
2. Enlist the help of a Project Manager
After a solution has been designed and accepted, many solution designers make one critical mistake. Feeling energized by the recent approval of their recommend solution, they automatically change gears into implementation mode and assume they can do it all by themselves. After all, why not assume the implementation phase will follow the previous pattern of success?
The reality is that any solution implementation should be treated as a project, and project management can be a muddy process. Although it might be good for the solution design professionals to get their hands dirty and dive into the implementation of their approved solution, too much of this might get them stuck in the mud. To deal with this level of complexity, it is highly recommended that you enlist the help of a Project Manager to lead your approved solution’s implementation.
3. Give up the credit
“The credit” is an often-neglected topic in the solution design process. Who gets the credit for the success achieved during the project planning, negotiation, approval, and implementation processes?
We’ve learned through our experiences that great solution designers share success credits with their stakeholders, and we’ve found out that this has been key to ensuring that solutions last longer.
Many times, you will need to give the credit to one or more of your stakeholders so that they can feel appreciated by being part of the successful solution implementation. While it might matter for someone to take the credit, it should not matter to the ones solving the problem through great solution design. Because when the whole team benefits from reaching the goal, you can be sure the solution will be sustainable, and each and every one will own it.
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