When faced with a critical problem, it is important not to let confusion and emotions cloud your judgement. To avoid making poor, hasty choices, you need to do some work. To make an informed decision, there are 7 questions you must ask.
- What is the normal state?
We tend to forget about this because we get caught up with causes and options. The normal state provides a baseline for comparison. It also helps to put the effects in perspective.
- What causes the anomaly?
This question identifies the trigger for the current state. As you want to treat the cause, not just the symptoms, knowing the cause provides the criteria the solution must address.
- What are the effects?
The impacts define the significance of the problem. Some effects are more damaging than others. It is necessary to segregate them so that you have an idea on their relative significance. The choice of solution must take into consideration the significance of the impacts on your business.
- What are the options?
There are usually multiple options to a solution. Options could range from taking no action to aggressive approaches that carry significant risks. Certain options might be more effective in tackling a specific cause.
- How do the pros and cons of the options compare?
The evaluation of the options provides the guidance on how well each option would eliminate the anomaly and improve the situation. To do a proper job in the evaluation, it is necessary to have a defined set of criteria for the rating. The rating criteria must correlate to the causes you need to address.
- What are the risks associated with each option?
As perfection is rare, there are risks that might sway your choice of solution. This is different from the pros and cons of each option. The pros and cons assume the solution works the way it is supposed to be. The risks are the effects that might arise when the solution doesn’t work out. The key here is to assess how tolerable the risks are and whether the potential effects would create a bigger deviation from the normal state or the current state.
- What information do you need to ignore?
The amount of information could be overwhelming and confusing. It is easy to be misled and sidetracked by irrelevant information. To minimize this situation, ensure that you capture the answers to questions 1 to 3 and have them readily available for reference. The frequent validation helps to weed out things that have little bearing on the solution or outcome.
With the information from the 7 questions, you would be able to determine objectively the best option for moving forward.