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Every business has problems, it doesn't matter the size or complexity of the business issues come up, daily some large and some small. What defines great business and great business cultures is how they solve those problems both in terms of the solutions they come up with and the methods they use to do it. The size of the problem often dictates the methods that companies use to solve the problems, it may be back of the envelop stuff or a chat in the corridor as you brainstorm over the water cooler or it may be a fishbone diagram or full blown six sigma or DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control), perhaps a design of experiments is required as part of a deep and long term investigation, all are valid approaches.
The challenge with any of these things is usually where do you start and what exactly is the end result that you need to achieve, what defines a successful outcome? - It's one of the reasons I love the DMAIC process for addressing issues.
Lately however I've been thinking about another process I love and use a lot, it's a coaching framework - The GROW Model. It's the process made famous by Sir John Whitmore and gives a clear process for coaching people where you work through identifying the Goal, Reality, Options (and or Obstacles to achieving the goal) and Way forward. It's a fantastic model for coaching and relies on the coach actually asking questions and starting quiet, something that friends and family alike will attest to is a problem for me!
I've been thinking then, how can I use that framework in a way that helps businesses solve problems quickly and simply and most importantly involve the people at the heart of the problem on the shop floor or the team who has the issue without having to delve into a chunk of six sigma style training. Then, one afternoon after reading through some notes from a coaching session I had the answer directly in front of me.
The idea of the Growth Plan is to allow someone to be the coach of the group and support them on getting to the cause of the problem using as simple a methodology as possible.
The GROWTH Plan is a simple and effective step through model designed to walk you through the elements of solving a problem to help you get clear on what the problem really is then explore a range of options, turning these into a timetable of tasks. By Taking the standard GROW coaching Model and adding on some detailed tasks and some thinking about what help is needed to achieve the tasks.
We do find that it is sometimes easier to start with the current reality of the situation and then identify the final outcome / Goal, as it's sometimes easier to identify what you don't want (the current reality) than what you really want (the Goal) do what works for you!
We find that it is best to work through the issue with a group of between 3 and 7 people with a facilitator acting as 'coach' for the process, they get to ask all the really 'dumb' questions that seem obviously but often uncover those little pearls of wisdom that lead to the breakthrough, but their focus is to help keep moving the process along not give a solution. So here is how we would run the process:
Gather your team, at least one whiteboard but two is better, one for notes and scribbles and one for results / actions. If you can get a projector it is really helpful to project a fishbone diagram on the wall and a pile of post it notes for brain storming - have 2 different colours! and a free wall to stick them on, some highlighters plus of course we always like to include some to drink with the chocolate cake.. not that could just be us.
Start ideally with the Grow section and figure out what you really want, if you start getting stuck here move to the Reality side of things, what have you got now that isn't working. Here we normally get a range of answers and a fast flowing stream of conversation and debate. When that starts to slow see if you can pull out the threads of commonality and compare that to the Goal, you will normally see the link, not quite the opposite however!
Then once you are 100% clear on the Goal start looking at the Options, here we like to use the fish bone diagram for brain storming so if you can project one onto a wall then do that. Have the team write an many options for understanding and fixing the issue on one colour of post-its, our Fishbone follows the 8M process so we are looking at Method, Manpower, Mother Nature, Maintenance, management / Money, Measurement, Material & Machinery. Give at most 10 mins to fill the wall with options, then have everyone walk the wall and agree on what options appear to be the best approach in each area and what isn't a priority. Highlight those you want to work with. Next on another colour of post it look at what the obstacles are that to each of those items you have identified as options in terms of being able to implement them and what you can do to overcome them, again this takes about 10 mins. Once again go through them and identify the best ones
From there it's time to identify what the tasks are from your options and obstacles that you need to work through and create your action list assigning each task an owner and a due date. The next step is to identify what help is needed to achieve the tasks, either internal or external to the organisation and again identify what is needed here, who will get that support and by when.
The benefits of this approach is that it drives a coaching, inclusive and consistent way of solving problems, the whole plan will take no more that 1 hour from start to finish from identifying the issue to having a multi step plan on what needs doing. best of all, anyone in the organisation can run this from the shop floor to management team. We like to recommend that you post the 1 page Growth Plan document on a board along with the others that the company are working on to show the progress and thinking. This opens up the organisation and improve communication of issues and awareness, you also, in our experience always find that someone somewhere else int he company has an idea that will help your plan improve!
We love the process so much we wan tot give it away, for free, so you can start using it right away and start seeing the benefits for yourself.
The template comes with the GROWTH template on the front and the 8M fishbone template on the back so you are ready to kick off solving problems right away
Getting a hold of the template is simple, just tell us where to email to and we'll send it right away (just double check your junk folders in case your email gets confused)
If you need any support in implementing The GROWTH Plan then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better
You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting
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