Hope this finds you all well.  Detroit was a fantastic time.  Thank you to everyone that made it happen.  That means you!  

Here is the synopsis for the Advanced Problem Solving 101 workshop.  If I forgot anything, or if you have any questions, feel free to give me shout.

Advanced Problem Solving 101

Problems can be broken down into 3 categories 
   Type 1 - Technical - You know the problem and you know how to fix it.  You fix it.

   Type 2 - Technical & Adaptive - You know the problem, the solution requires learning.

   Type 3 - Adaptive - Requires learning what the problem is, and the solution requires learning.

To learn more about this, I recommend reading Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald Heifetz

Here is a way to address Type 2 & 3 Challenges.

I. Reword the problem as "challenge".  Create a challenge statement that is not too broad and not too narrow in it's scope.  Try starting with "How might we...".  Pick the best one.
Brainstorm a bunch of statements.  

II. Use that statement as your basis to conduct research.  Interview people affected by the challenge.  Interview people on the extreme ends of the challenge.  Immerse yourself in their life to gain a better understanding of what they think, feel, say, and do.  Explore parallel industries to see how they are successful in dealing with similar challenges.  Consult experts.

III. Filter insights from the research.  Tell peoples' stories to each other to help pull out insights. Group the insights by finding patterns or relationships.  Eliminate unneeded insights.  Get it down to 4 - 6 categories.

IV.  Find opportunities.  Pick 1 or 2 insights from each of the 4 - 6 sections.  Vote on which ones you will use.  Brainstorm new "How might we..." statements for each chosen insight.

V. Find possible solutions. Pick 1 - 2 opportunities for each section.  Brainstorm out possible solutions.  There is no wrong or silly answer.  In fact, the silly answer sometimes will lead to a really good idea.  

VI. Pick the solution that is the most Viable, Desirable, and Reliable.  Pick the one your team is most excited about.  

VII. Make your solutions real.  Rough your solution out quick and dirty.  Test it. Modify it as need be.  Don't be married to it.  If it doesn't work, try one of your other solutions.  The idea is to get it going without spending a lot of time, energy, or money; to create a thing into the world rather than just talking about it.  

VIII. Develop your solution. Iterate.  Keep evolving your solution as need be.  

Well folks, that's the rough and dirty version.  You've gone from a shotgun blast to a laser focus for addressing the challenge.  Hope this helps.

If you'd like a much more in-depth version to walk you through it, you can download a free toolkit put together by IDEO.org at http://www.designkit.org/resources/1

Acumen+ and IDEO.org have put together a free 7 week course explaining it even more.  You can check that out at http://plusacumen.org/courses/
Check out their other courses, too!

It was a pleasure and an honor to share this with you all.  Now go try it and let me know how it went and contact me with any questions.

All the best,

Rob Grossman