Solving Problems Effectively

April 19, 2024

The common, seemingly logical approach people take to problem-solving is to first decide and then plan the implementation. However, this practice can lead to issues when those defining the problem and proposing the solution are not responsible for carrying out the implementation. This can create a gap between problem-solving and solution implementation; those tasked with implementation may disagree with the solution or find it beyond their capability to implement, resulting in the solution remaining on paper or being implemented differently than intended (a problem most consulting company face).

At Adizes, we approach problem-solving differently: those who make the decision should be able to implement it. In simple cases, a single individual has the authority, the power to enforce, and the information to make and implement an educated decision. That person is assigned to diagnose the problem, design, and implement the solution. In more complex situations, the person who has the authority to define the problem and decide what the solution should be does not necessarily have the power to enforce implementation, nor does he have all the necessary information or know-how to make a good decision.In this case, a team needs to be composed. We refer to this group as the "capi group" (coalesced authority, power, and influence). This team should diagnose the problem, develop a solution, and implement it. In other words, those responsible for implementation should be able to implement the decision they are making.

Often there is a problem assembling the capi group. Some necessary team members may not report to the person with the authority to decide, and they may lack the authority to mobilize them. Additionally, the team diagnosing the problem may realize that the problem is bigger or different. The initially assembled team now has insufficient capi. In such cases, we need to scale down the problem we are addressing, focus on a part over which we have capi, or adjust the team composition to ensure we have the necessary capi. The formula to follow is:  capi = problem.

We should not face a problem that is not controllable or solvable by the team or the person assigned to it. The team should be like a heat-seeking missile, adapting its composition as the problem becomes clearer.As the problem is better understood as the decision-making process progresses, the group should change its composition to ensure it is capable of implementing the decision it is making.

Decision-making should not be separated from implementation. It is essential to start by identifying who is necessary to implement a decision before even diagnosing the problem. This group should then diagnose the problem, changing its composition as necessary, always ensuring that capi equals the problem or the solution. The team working on the problem must always feel they have the capability to implement what they are deciding.

This approach increases the probability of implementation, which is not always the case. The political realities within the company can make the implementation of decisions made by top management or consulting companies difficult or impossible. As a result, what gets implemented, if anything, is often not what was decided. I am proud to report that companies from start-ups to the largest on earth, in over fifty countries, companies that practice the Adizes methodology, over eighty percent of the decisions made are implemented. And I mean major strategic decisions like changing organizational structures, change in strategy, succession of leadership, etc.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes