We have had the chance to work with some highly productive teams at CALMC. We’ve seen them develop from committees struggling to accomplish anything to become effective teams, able to work together and solve problems. We always know, however, there is one question we will eventually hear.
“Are we done yet?”
Solving problems is hard work. Data needs to be gathered to help identify the root causes of the problem. The interests of all parties need to be considered. Multiple options for possible solutions must be generated and evaluated using clear, objective criteria. An option or combination of options must be selected by a consensus decision. With all of that effort, it is understandable team members may be looking forward to finishing their task.
The answer to that question is not always what the team wants to hear. Suppose you are part of a group that has been working on a problem. Your team has selected the solution they believe will be most effective. Is your team done with its work?
The answer is “No”. Have you ever been on a committee that developed a solution to a problem, only to never hear of it again or see it implemented? Determining a solution is not enough. Your team also needs to determine how the plan will be implemented. This includes assigning people to be responsible for the various stages of implementation, determining milestones for progress, and establishing a time line.
When you team has completed these tasks, are you done with your work?
The answer is still “No”.
Your team needs to actively monitor the implementation phase of the process. They will need to be certain time lines are being met, determine ways to overcome the seemingly inevitable road blocks that arise, and just make sure the aspects of the implementation plan are carried out.
Hopefully the implementation phase will be complete and the solution to the problem is in place. Is your work as a team complete?
As you’ve probably guessed, the answer is still “No”.
Once the new procedure has been put in place, the team will need to determine how effective it is. Your team will have to determine how the effectiveness of the solution will be measured, gather the appropriate data, and evaluate the results. At this point the results could be:
- Your solution worked. Congratulations. Now your team can determine if there are ways to make the process even better. The goal of any organization should be continuous improvement, and this is your opportunity.
- Your solution may have worked, but not as well as you wanted. Your team should now determine what happened and how to optimize the solution.
- Your solution did not work. In our experience, if teams follow the problem-solving process carefully, this rarely occurs. If it does, it’s back to the drawing board to try again.
Now, you may be done. Or maybe not…
If your team is designed to be on-going, such as a labor-management committee or a departmental team, it is time to look for the next problem and begin your work again.
If that sounds like a lot of work, you are right. If problem-solving did not take work, it would not be essential. Problems could be quickly and easily resolved. It is the effort required that makes it worth your time.
It is important your team continue to put in the effort required to complete the process. Avoid the temptation to quit too early. If teams in your workplace need assistance, CALMC can help. We can work with you throughout the process to make sure you get the most from your problem solving efforts.