Why Groups Struggle to Solve Problems Together

Useful HBR article to run better problem solving meetings with groups.

The author simplifies the process and provides a methodology to be more effective when bringing a group of people together to solve problems.

One thing that I think is missing is the “Team” aspect.

This methodology fits into a model that I think is one of the best to run an effective meeting:

  1. Determine the ideal outcome of the meeting
  2. Based on that outcome, decide who must be in the meeting to reach that outcome. Invite no other active participants. Ensure that all active participants have gathered all relevant data and information prior to the meeting.
  3. Set the agenda; before the meeting or during the meeting based on preference.
  4. Once you reach the outcome, adjourn the meeting.
  5. Suggestion – In the last 3-5 minutes, ask for a meeting rating (I like 1 to 5 or 1 to 3). Discuss and decide how to improve next time.
  6. Inform all who may be affected by the outcome

For instance, if you are going into a meeting to discuss the disgruntled VIP customer exemplified in this article, I would recommend the following steps:

  1. Decide the ideal outcome for the discussion.  Be sure to consider all stakeholders such as your team, your business, the VIP and her team, suppliers, and other relevant parties. 
  2. Talk to your team beforehand to see what experience they have had in these situations before.  For instance, you could speak with all the people who have had direct contact with the key members of the VIP customer’s team to get the broadest context. 
  3. Invite the appropriate people to the meeting. 
  4. During the meeting, strive to achieve the ideal outcome.
  5. Lastly, inform the appropriate teams and individuals inside and outside of your company allowing for changes, if the client is not fully satisfied, and authorize the right individuals/teams to develop and implement appropriate (e.g., strategy-supporting, client-empathic) changes to support the meeting’s outcome.

Diligently practicing a process like this will help to avoid the usual eventuality that Jim Collins sums up well with this quote:

“I’m sorry to imprison you in this long meeting, as I did not have time to prepare a short one.” – Jim Collins (from lessons he learned from Peter Drucker)


Be Exceptional!

Bill – Certified Growth Coach, Foundations in NeuroLeadership certified, PI Certified Partner, MG100 member coach

(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer up to 50% off program fees. Click here to see if you qualify.

Please click here to download the free pdf version of my book Further, Faster – The Vital Few Steps that Take the Guesswork out of Growth. There is also a link to Amazon for the audio, e-book or paperback versions.

Published by Bill Flynn

Gazelles Member Advisor and early stage startup specialist with a proven track record with 16 Boston-based startups (9 to date with 5 successful outcomes, advisor to 7 others); SMB to Fortune 500 companies. 20+ years of Senior Sales, Marketing and GM experience in industries including mobile advertising, security, digital advertising, e-commerce and IT. Core Competencies: Player/Coach, Metrics-driven, Execution-based philosophy, Life-long learner

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