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Problem solving - it takes a village

Back in the day when I was a Systems Analyst, I was sent on an Advanced Programming course.   We learnt how to follow a business problem from start to finish using logic and flow charting.   It is amazing how often I use this method to understand problems, sometimes just in my head, sometimes on paper.   I also learnt that if I shared the problem with a few people, and brainstormed, the answers came even more quickly.

About a month ago, I noticed that our lounge couches and chairs were all pushed up against the coffee table.   I thought that our domestic helper had been cleaning the carpets and forgotten to move them back, and so I moved them back into place.   Over the next few weeks this kept happening, but as we are not often in the house at the same time, I would just replace them and forget about it.   Finally, I had a chance to ask her, and she told me that she thought I was doing it in the evenings.   I questioned my family, but it remained a mystery.   We have a rule in the house (seldom obeyed) - no dogs in the lounge.   But our ridgeback puppy loves the sun, sneaks in, and is apparently rolling against the furniture in her search for a good spot!  The question you might ask is whether we have found a solution, and, yes, we can close the doors, but she somehow manages to get in at least once a day.    Mag locks and a biometric reader coming to our house soon!

As is often the case, it took us all in the room at the same time to find the answer, and yet we often hold meetings to solve problems missing key people.   The moment we pull in all the stakeholders, solutions present themselves much more quickly.  
Developing project plans follows a similar path, often not all of the users and project team are part of the decision making process, and yet they are responsible for a successful roll out.   Input from senior execs and the sales team at the pre purchase stage might indicate a requirement for Analytics and Business Intelligence.  However the users and implementers of a new solution are just looking to get the whole thing up and running as quickly as possible, with minimum fuss, and the sheer volume of the operational requirements can put the more strategic requirements behind implementing the new solution on the back burner.

Working with others to develop strategy and analyse problems sometimes seems slower, but you can't play squash without a wall to bounce the balls off.   While experience and knowledge might deliver a good project plan, you won't get the same buy in, nor committed understanding, as when the rest of the team is part of the process.  Most people enjoy implementing ideas that they have participated in developing, rather than being told what to do.

And that's the basis of the most successful projects, enthusiastic participation.

So whether its a project, a problem or a mystery, remember solving it takes a village, all the relevant people around the camp fire, discussing the days events, and planning the next one's.


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