FREE Problem Solving – Part 2 – Choosing & Implementing Opportunities

For Fred reaching his goal seemed impossible, but adding the following simple action steps made it reachable. But it’s the same with any goal; “Yard by yard, it’s hard; but inch by inch, it’s a cinch.” How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Hopefully, you’ve read Problem Solving Process – Part 1 and may have even created your own SLCO chart. Here are the next processes I showed him. But before continuing, I had to explain goals, objectives and strategies, so he could write them:

Goal It had to be reasonable but big. (Too large a goal might be; “I will be the #1 brand in the world.”) Fred’s big goal was just to bring his idea to market. (After this goal is met, he could set a new higher goal.)

Objectives Fred needed 3 large accomplishments in place to reach his goal. He needed to write them as statements of accomplishment.

Strategies These are rather simple step-by-step actions to help achieve an objective. (How do you eat an elephant? Answer, 1 bite at a time!)

Fred had his final destination (goal) in mind, so he needed to begin analyzing his opportunities to see which should be implemented and which should be junked or delayed.

There are 2 ways to decide upon an objective: First, make positive statements to be in place for the goal to be reached. The other is to organize opportunities from 1st to last with the last usually becoming your objective. In either event there should be very few – 2 to 4, because it’s difficult to concentrate on more. (Fred came up with 8, so we had to combine several into one large objective statement.)

Fred needed to identify which of the many opportunities could help reach his objectives. Separating them into 3 synergistic groups (design, transportation/funding, sales); he put each opportunity in logical sequence. Each had a final outcome toward the goal. These became his objectives.

Most other opportunities got added under the appropriate objective as strategies (step by step actions). Some missed in-between steps, so we added these as strategies (also adding to the opportunities list). (Some he discarded; some were kept for later implementation.)

Below was his list of items relating to making presentations for funding.

–          Drive to city                                                                  E
–          Make presentations to 3 qualified companies        F
–          Save lunch $ to buy hotel, gas & parking                 A
–          Call 15 companies for appointments                        C
–          Check auto for safety                                                  B
–          Make appointments with 5 companies                   D

The final step in this group was to make a presentation to 3 qualified companies – his objective we rewrote it as “I will make a presentation to 3 qualified companies by X date.” Each of the other activities became strategies to help him reach his objective. (Remember, he had 2 other objectives with strategies as well.)

Here’s how each was written including 1) who would do it; 2) a cost estimate; and 3) a due date (completion). But I couldn’t just let Fred set an arbitrary date. He needed to get those involved to commit to a cost and date when their part could be finished. Below is one of his objectives with strategies.

Objective Strategies Who When How Much
By 9/1
I will make
to 3
-Save lunch
$ to buy
-Check auto for safety
-Write a strong
-Get list of 15-20 Cmpies
-Call 15 companies
-Make 5 appn’ts
-Practice presentation
-Drive to city
-Make presentations


Beth Ann

Beth Ann

June 15
June 15

June 15

July 1
July 15
July 15
Aug 10
Aug 10-12




Achieving a goal takes focus and determination, but is important in Problem Solving. Thus far all we had was “planning.” Unless he put his plan into action it was just wasted time – so much hot air!

Fred knew completing his strategies would assure completing his objectives. Completing his objectives assured reaching his goal. Nothing should stand in the way – NOTHING! That means holding everyone to their promised date. This is serious as a heart attack. If you don’t hold everyone responsible, they’ll blow it off and if you reach your goal, it may be too late!

At the 1st meeting neither George nor Beth Ann had even begun, while Fred was way ahead of his deadlines. Although Fred tried to hide it, he was very disappointed. All knew it. Although I had warned him, he was unprepared for so much resistance from his trusted team. The problem was when he originally presented the idea, the participants casually assigned dates and costs. Not their top priority, they really didn’t commit to meeting them.

Now, he had to make up the time by squeezing everyone’s time frame. To help him for the rest of the project, I recommended casual visits with participants between meetings to check on the progress of specific assignments. If there were roadblocks, he should help remove them. Each was reminded the importance of completing the project on time.

As of today I’m happy to report that Fred accomplished what seemed like an impossible task. His team did it in a relatively short number of months! He celebrated by taking my wife and me to the nicest restaurant in the St. Louis area. Currently, he is still negotiating with 2 of the companies to finally bring his idea to market.

and FINALLY . . .
For his and possibly your next project here’s what I suggest. “Head off” any problems before they arise:

1) Casually drop in on participants to see how they are progressing.

2) Offer to help clear-up roadblocks by

a) Putting pressure on those presenting roadblocks
b) Offer to switch the responsibility/opportunity to someone else.
(This will light a fire on all but the laziest people.)

3) Schedule brief group meetings weekly to track progress. Each team member reports on what was accomplished and roadblocks. Put the emphasis on BRIEF (20-30 minutes at most)!

4) Have a small, congratulatory “smile-fest” during your meeting at the completion of each objective.

In any event for effective problem solving, DATES MUST BE MET or all is lost! Managers must stay on top of the project, or projects will have little importance to the rest of the group. Team members must complete these projects along with all else they “have on their plate.”  Then you’ll accomplish far more that you ever thought possible.


More Information on Planning:

Problem Solving – Part 1 click here


Photo by gramarye