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Key to Successful Change -Identifying the Core Problem

Posted On : Oct-26-2009 | seen (436) times | Article Word Count : 746 |

The core problem is the single underlying cause of the majority (about 70% or more) of the undesirable effects that prompt us to think about change in the first place. Identifying the problem is the challenging part.
Earlier I focused on the need to identify and address the core problem rather than its symptoms, when embarking on a change programme. The core problem is the single underlying cause of the majority (about 70% or more) of the undesirable effects that prompt us to think about change in the first place. Identifying the problem is the challenging part.

How many of us can honestly put up our hands and say that we have never jumped to conclusions about the causes of situations we don’t like? Suppose our sales are declining. Do we assume that it is due to a dip in the economy, or an underperforming sales force, or “unfair” competition from abroad, or prices too high? Or could the main reason for our decline lie in a combination of all these issues, or none of them?

How would we normally handle this type of situation in our environment? What are the ramifications of handling these situations in our typical manner?

Unless we adopt a systematic approach to finding the core problem, it is more than likely that we will end up treating the symptoms. This may give us some temporary relief, but the problem will almost certainly return to haunt us.

The First Step
The first things we notice when everything is not quite as we would like, are the undesirable effects, so let’s start by listing them. In doing so we can meet one of the four key criteria for successful change: Getting people involved in planning their (and our) future. Their participation delivers at least two important benefits.

First, we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that our own list of undesirable effects is far from comprehensive. Get a group of five or six people from different departments together, and ask them to write down a list of around eight adverse consequences of your present circumstances. I have never failed to be impressed by the diversity of views, many of them anchored in the effects on their own working environment. For example, does this sound familiar?…

* Receptionist: People don’t answer their phones promptly.
* Sales: Prices are too high. Lead times are too long.
* Manufacturing: We always have to cope with rush jobs. We are asked to do the impossible!
* Customer Service: Too many customer complaints about poor delivery. I’m always chasing orders through the plant.

Secondly, people really appreciate being involved. Through involving others we will identify the issues that most worry them, issues that we hadn’t thought about but are important to others, and thus most likely to cause them to resist change. If they are involved in the process, and understand the reasons behind it, people are more likely to be persuaded that change is necessary and in their interest. The more converts you have, the easier it becomes to “tip” the organisation towards a successful outcome.

Having listed the undesirable effects, we must now begin the relentless pursuit of the finding the underlying causes. One of the strongest weapons in our armoury is: an enquiring mind and the trenchant use of the question WHY? Asking it once, twice or even three times may not be enough, because underlying causes can be elusive. We must question the validity of assumptions, and work hard at surfacing assumptions that remain unexpressed; it is these that are usually the source of conflict, and remain hidden, perhaps for that very reason!

Using a facilitator can help the process along, someone impartial and objective who can add clarity and help understand the meaning behind an idea; someone who can help us see whether the causes we tease out are both necessary and sufficient to result in the effect we see. Some effects may arise from the actions of two causes acting simultaneously.

Having worked our way through to a series of underlying causes of what is actually happening, is there any underlying cause that crops up more often than others? Is there one that accounts for the majority of the undesirable effects? Maybe two thirds or so of them? That’s it; you have tracked down the CORE PROBLEM. The next step is how to overcome it.

Keys to successful change:
• Address the underlying problem, not the symptom.
• Get people involved in planning their (and your) future.
• Communicate constantly and clearly.
• Flexibility. If something doesn’t work, try something else.

Article Source : to Successful Change -Identifying the Core Problem_4551.aspx

Author Resource :
Dartnell : Business Planning Services

Keywords : planning a business, business planning services,

Category : Business : Management

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