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Question: What framework can I use to make meetings slated for problem-solving more effective?

Use the Business Model Canvas

“The Business Model Canvas is a process that holistically addresses the multisided nature of developing successful business solutions. It systematically aligns stakeholder interests from your clients to your supply chain and investors, which helps you yield viable, actionable solutions.”

Take Down the Walls

“Too often, meetings for problem-solving are rigid, coordinated events. Rather than sticking to a structured approach, find someone who is competent at taking good notes and allow your team to “hash it out” the old-fashioned way: in a room, talking to one another without having to hold a community horn, and resolving problems by committee.”

Add Accountability

“We solve many technical problems at our organization that have to do with custom integrations. The framework that works for us is: analyze, discuss, suggest, recap, resolve, follow up. We analyze all issues prior to a meeting and discuss them briefly (30 minutes maximum). Suggestions for solutions are then gathered and recapped. We implement, record and follow up on resolutions.”

Make Sure Everyone Gets Heard

“Studies show that equal participation is key to projects involving teamwork. Even the dominant staff members gain from listening, and the more reserved staff members often have great ideas that simply don’t get heard. Try to set up a meeting that discourages overt judgement, or use an egg-timer to allow everyone to speak without interruption.”

Give Your Team a Fresh Frame of Reference

“If you think solving problems means locking everyone in a room indefinitely, then stare at a vision chart. Don’t blink unless the burning dryness improves (rather than blurs) your vision. The fact is, monotonous stimuli (even that of a challenging puzzle) numbs the mind. So, try a change of scenery. New things can prompt new ways of thinking and lead to critical epiphanies.”

Start With a Clearly Defined Problem

“Brainstorming tends to not work very well. The key is to define the problem well and then talk about specific strategies you can put in place now to build towards a solution. It doesn’t matter how small or silly a thing it is. It’s better for everyone involved to be able to take action now than to come up with the perfect plan.”

Accept More Than One Solution

“When a problem-solving meeting has been in session for 15 minutes, more than one member of your team is bound to come up with an idea on how to move forward. Your biggest job as the leader is to filter out the options that have been tabled. Find their compatibilities and limitations. Let each member know that their point of view will be respected and tested.”

Stay Focused on Three Goals

“A three-step process for effective problem-solving meetings can make the difference between chaos and success. The key is to make clear the objective of the meeting and keep everyone focused on each step. Step 1: Identify the problem. Step 2: Define what’s holding you back. Step 3: Agree on a solution. If possible, a neutral meeting facilitator can help keep everyone focused and on track.”