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|The 8-Step Solution:|
An Effective Tool for Problem Solving and Decision
Understanding: Process Yields
Once an issue arises within a group, it moves by process - how members talk
and listen together - toward an outcome.
Any process can produce any outcome. However, certain processes tend to
yield better outcomes more frequently. The combinations of process and
outcome often become a pattern for a group. Various process/outcome
patterns result in differing levels of productivity and satisfaction for
Every group has its own ways of solving problems and making decisions. The
diagram below shows the optional processes and outcomes for dealing with
To improve your group's problem solving and decision making effectiveness,
think about the patterns (of process and outcome) that are typical for your
group, from your experience. Then consider your own level of satisfaction
with these usual patterns. Identify the process/outcome options of the
most frequent ways your group deals with issues. Rate your satisfaction
level with each pattern (low-medium-high). |
The 8-Step Mapping Process
When your group has an important problem to solve or decision to make, you
can resolve it through mapping the issue. This collaborative process helps
you reach the most productive and satisfying outcomes.
|Identify and define the issue; determine what the
decision to make is, and who is involved in the process:|
- What is the issue?
- Who is involved?
- Checking everyone's
willingness and readiness to work through a particular issue before
launching into the issue.
- Setting procedures for conducting your meeting
before starting the discussion.
Without a good contract
- commitment to work through an issue - any discussion may be hurried,
superficial, flat or guarded, if it occurs at all.
|Develop complete understanding of the issue before taking
action. This prevents jumping quickly to solutions that do not fit.|
How to understand the issue:
Each person answers four questions from his or her own perspective.
Understanding as the Solution:
- Sensory Data - What have I seen and heard?
- Thoughts - What do I think is going on?
- Feelings - How am I feeling?
- Actions Past, Current - What have I done, or what am I doing,
that is working or not working?
Occasionally you will discover that it is not necessary to go beyond Step
3, because the very process of understanding the issue in itself has become
|This step focuses on each member's "wants for" the team and
organization in relation to the issue. Each asks themselves and shares:|
Be careful not to confuse what you "want for" others, with what you
"want from" others.
Include "don't wants" as well as wants.
- What do I want for the Organization?
- What do I want for Other(s)?
- What do I want for Self?
|At this point members brainstorm what they could actually
do to resolve the issue. To generate options:|
- Brainstorm a diverse list of small positive actions you can actually
take as next steps rather than trying to come up with one big solution.
- Think small, openly and positively.
- Be sure to include both new possibilities that have not been tried and
past actions that have been helpful. Do not repeat what is not working.
- Generate possibilities without pausing to critique or judge the
|Choose options and action plans that are the most workable
and beneficial for the team and organization. Allow complete and equal
input. Assemble a plan including all input.|
- Who will do what?
- By when?
|Test your plan by pausing for a moment and imagining
yourselves actually carrying out the actions you have chosen to take.|
You may need to go through previous steps on deeper issues.
- If each of you sees, hears and experiences yourself and others
following through with each action effectively - great! Your plans fit.
- However, what if someone cannot see himself or herself or others
carrying out the action plan? Does a thought, feeling, want or action
exist that does not fit congruently and that dampens the plan? If so, talk
about it. Revise the plan.
- Perhaps the incongruency signals a new issue. It may be signaling a
deeper issue that is really blocking resolution of the original issue.
|After you have had a chance to take action, evaluate your
plan and determine how well it worked. If your action has been effective,
you will feel positive - celebrate! If your action has not been effective,
you may experience a range of negative feelings - disappointment,
frustration, even embarrassment.|
- Review what you have learned form the experience and generate a new
- Do not keep repeating actions that do not work.
If the planned action was never taken, consider whether this is part of a
|IMPORTANT NOTE: These 8 steps are intended as a continuous loop. It is not a one-time method, but a continuous action. When warning signals, problems or other issues emerge, you start the process over, going back to the initial steps. All the steps are important. Don't try to leap over them! We also recommend that you refer to the article we've written on Team Communications for further assistance in
problem solving issues.|
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