How to Hold an Effective Problem-Solving Meeting

How many times have you convened a problem-solving meeting only to have it go around and around with no effective resolution? According to Vistage Speaker Mike Murray, the following process will guarantee results every time.

You may not find the perfect solution to your problem, but you will get a tangible plan of action that at least gets you moving in the right direction.

This problem-solving process requires three types of participants:

The person who presents the problem.
An objective third party whose only job is to facilitate the meeting and record the information.
Those who will help to solve the problem. The presenter states the problem in the “Getting from a Gripe to a Goal”format. The facilitator asks the presenter four questions:

  • What is the background or context of the problem?
  • What makes the problem serious for the presenter?
  • How has the presenter tried to solve the problem?
  • If the problem was resolved to perfection, what would the situation look like? While listening to the presenter answer these questions, participants brainstorm the presenter’s goals in writing.Each participant explains from his or her perspective the one or two things that seem to represent the presenter’s actual problem or goal. While the facilitator records each statement, the presenter listens without agreeing or disagreeing.The presenter chooses definitions of the problem that elicit a strong personal reaction.The presenter selects one definition for the participants to work on and gives some background as to why he or she chose that definition. The facilitator then restates the problem as indicated by the presenter’s choices.

    Participants present ideas (actions the presenter could take) that might help the presenter resolve the problem. The presenter edits and adds information as needed to guide the participants. The facilitator records all ideas on a flip chart.

    The presenter identifies any ideas that might be successful, creates a possible solution using those ideas and determines the first step to implement that solution.

    Participants write down any final comments they have regarding the situation and give them to the presenter.

    Getting from a Gripe to a Goal
    In Five Easy Steps

    Tired of hearing employees gripe about things without ever offering solutions? Use the following process to get them thinking about solutions instead of focusing on problems:

  • Describe the problem in one sentence that begins with: “My frustration is…” or “My difficulty is…” or “My gripe is…”
  • Start the second sentence with: “My real concern is…”
  • Turn your identified concern into a wish: “What I’m really wishing for is…”
  • Turn your wish into a goal: “Therefore, my goal is to…” (At this point, do not worry about whether or not you can achieve the goal.)
  • Insert the word how into your goal: “My goal (or problem) is how to….”

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