Why Groups Struggle to Solve Problems Together

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

I like the way 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.
  3. Set the agenda.
  4. Once you reach the outcome, adjourn the meeting
  5. 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)

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Bill  – Multi-certified Growth Coach, Foundations in NeuroLeadership certified, Predictive Index Certified Partner

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