Just as a carpenter needs more than a hammer to build a house, a good leader needs a variety of tools to effectively solve everyday problems that routinely occur. Using these key concepts or problem solving tools will be beneficial to excelling in a leadership role. The ability to properly apply these concepts is what separates good leaders from great leaders. I will be covering the concepts of brainstorming, agile project management, and the 5 Why’s technique to problem solving. All three of these concepts are proven as effective methods that are easy to implement in a various situations if the processes are implemented in the correct way.
Brainstorming is a popular problem solving technique used in a variety of setting from elementary schools to the boardroom. Basically, brainstorming is a process for coming up with a lot of ideas quickly- initially no bad ideas. Gathering all ideas, even and especially the crazy ones, then evaluating which ones are realistic and not boxing yourself in by picking only one solution. I already knew that brainstorming was a great way to gather ideas within a group, but I did not know there were different processes of going about it. One of the multiple brainstorming methods I like from the examples we went over in class was reverse brainstorming. I found it to be an interesting and effective method to find ways to come up with possible solutions. I never thought that thinking of ways to make the problem worse could actually help with solving the problem. I think that applying these techniques in the future here at Neumont and later in the workplace will greatly benefit me because it allows for, in most cases, quick ideas for a starting point that can be evaluated and elaborated on to flesh out plans and solutions. During a project for interpersonal communication my group needed to create a video that would present a case study we had chosen and written a paper about. We were trying to figure out how to go about making the video because we did not want to make a boring video where we just stood there and presented to the camera. We bounced ideas off of each other and decided to draw pictures to act out our case study and give our presentation as we went through the pictures on the whiteboard.
Agile Project Management is another effective problem solving technique covered in this class. This form of management is an iteration based method that gets feedback from consumers to improve the final product. The way this works is that there are no long term plans but, it is a series of small projects that focus on specific things and build off of each other. In Intro to Computer Science we just started a project where we are to replicate a dice rolling game called Zombie Dice. We were given an outline of what to do and once we finish the requirements we are to turn it in. The project after that is to improve upon the game using the feedback we receive from the teacher or tutor who grades the first half of the project. Although it will only go through two iterations the goal is to have a polished version of the game by the end of the project. This application is similar to how the software industry, for the most part, operates. They put out a product, get feedback from their consumers, and generate patches to improve their product. Google is a prime example of this type of management. When they launched their search engine it was good, but not perfect. They also allowed a way to get feedback to help them grow and adapt to consumer needs which improved their products. Another example of this concept are the many updates and patches that Microsoft and Apple push out to their users on a regular basis.
In addition to brainstorming and agile project management, the final problem solving concept I feel is advantageous to understand and use is the 5 Why’s. This problem solving method is extremely simple which is why it is so popular. The 5 Why’s helps you get to the root of the problem by exploring the cause and effect relationships that underlie that particular problem. I used this method in Leadership and Problem Solving with the current issue analysis project. We used this technique in an attempt to find the root cause of academic overload in regards to standardized testing. I kept asking why until I came to the conclusion that because the testing is so frequent and generalized that it is only testing student’s memory and not if they know how to apply the concepts they are being tested on. This particular technique has a broad range of application. It can be used for any situation where you need to find out why a problem is a problem in the first place. For example, if you are developing a product and are continuously late on deadlines that is a clear indication that something is wrong. You need to find out what is causing the delays. Once you know that you will be able to develop a plan to solve the problem.
Brainstorming, agile project management, and the 5 why’s are all essential techniques for anyone in a leadership role to possess in their arsenal for problem solving and management. All three of these concepts that I covered are beneficial for any leader to begin, progress, and complete any stage of a project while dealing with problems as they arise. Brainstorming generates the beginning of a project as well as helps overcome struggles throughout. Agile Project Management is the structure of progression for the project and can be repeated as many times as needed. Finally, the 5 Why’s is one of many problem solving techniques to use to overcome unexpected occurrences at any stage of a project. All three of these problem solving techniques are valuable tools for school, work and personal projects in which a problem occurs.