November 9, 2018

Master Clinic on Solving Tough Problems


As a manager and leader, sooner or later you are going to make some difficult decisions and face some tough challenges and problems. This program is about the skills, tools, and methods which will make this task very efficient and highly effective.

Making decisions and solving problems are the most important aspects of being an executive. It is also the toughest and riskiest. Bad decisions can damage a business and a career, sometimes irreparably.

A promotion can be a very dangerous time for an executive because the new problems that they face can be radically different from the typical problems from their prior position. In fact, the decision making style and problem solving approach that worked in the past may be the wrong style and approach in their new position.

There are a number of pitfalls to decision making which almost operate beyond our recognition. Learn about each of these pitfalls and practice the antidotes to stop them immediately.

Excellent managers and leaders can quickly arrive at quality solutions to the toughest problems. They can quickly frame them in such a way that they get the maximum leverage from staff and resources. These leaders know how to adjust their role to fit the situation. They know when to look to others for input and how to get the right people involved. They know some problems require ongoing engagement, while others can be fixed permanently.

The speed in which excellent managers and leaders guide the organization in solving problems and the resultant quality of the solutions is what sets them apart from others. In this seminar you will not only learn the critical techniques to solve your toughest organizational challenges, but you will also learn how to leverage the time and talent of your staff to arrive at quality solutions quickly.

Typical examples of Leadership Challenges include:

• Struggling with multiple organizational initiatives
• Coming to a solution when a number of key stakeholders have strong vested interests
• Dealing with a boss whose goals, assumptions, or actions causes degradation is some aspect of the organization
• Planning in the face of uncertain futures
• Long term versus short term, quality versus cost, centralized versus decentralized
• Conflicts between departments arising from different goals.
• Preventing people from “Gaming” the budgeting process or the reward system

Today organizations are being stressed by increasing demands for timely response, increased cooperation, lower cost, higher quality and better service. Managers need to have a more comprehensive set of tools to deliver complete solutions. In this seminar, you will gain “hands-on” experience with powerful methods to move your organization to the next level.

Our research and practical experience has demonstrated that most leadership challenges can be classified into eight types. Particularly difficult challenges can contain more than one type of issue. Participants are highly encouraged to bring their most vexing challenge to the seminar. You will learn to analyze the problem and create action plans that will eliminate the issue, permanently.

Seminar Benefits

By the end of this seminar, participants will be able to:

• Avoid the mistakes that can derail a career
• Fit their unique and difficult problems into the appropriate problem types
• Generate powerful solutions to the most difficult problems
• Dramatically improve decision making effectiveness
• Know how to involve key players
• Lay out an executive action plan that helps others gets results
• Achieve high quality solutions, quickly

Seminar Outline

List your challenge or problem
List your decisions that are tough
Examine the relationship of decisions and problems to the organizational hierarchy
Pick a challenge/problem you want to solve but don’t know how
Using the critical skills of Naming and Framing as precursors to efforts in Taming the problem.

Challenges that are fundamental:

• Puzzles: classical problems with clear criteria and objective solutions. (Typical methodologies include six sigma, lean, and process design.)
• “Too rich”: There are multiple priorities or projects, and there is political- jockeying for each persons pet project.

Challenges that are mysterious:

• Uncertainties: problems with many unknown or unknowable variables as they relate to the future
• Dilemmas: the desire to achieve two essential goals that feel mutually incompatible. Often seen as a friction between two departments. (Case study: Dell Computer)
• Problems with a life of their own: problems with their own momentum and stability, which is separate from the intentions of the problem solvers (Case studies: US Healthcare System

Challenges that are dangerous:

• Many voices: competing interests among various groups who need to bargain in good faith to a mutually acceptable solution
• Problems of our own making: result of unrealistic, naive, or distorted assumptions about our situation (Case study: Gillette)
• That bite: entrenched conflicts with long history and strong moral overlays, volatile or hostile behavior between groups, virtually intractable (Case study: US Postal Service)

Once each challenge has been placed in the appropriate problem type, you will also know the following:

• Your role as the leader
• What the leader says and does
• Prerequisites for a successful effort
• Potential value of the group…and when to avoid a group
• Proper role of the problem solver
• Possible need for a neutral party
• Definition of a good outcome
• The false solutions that could derail your efforts
• Needed insights or change in thinking
• When to exit an intractable situation

The use of seven Solution Areas:

• Structural
• Conceptual
• Interpersonal
• Cultural
• Technological
• Individual
• Political

Tasking Checklist

• Integrating everything into an effective leadership problem solving strategy
• Action plans

Uncover the 8 traps in decision making

• Antidotes to the 8 traps

Advocacy versus Inquiry

• Ground rules for discussion and inquiry


“The “Masters Clinic on Solving Tough Problems” provides participants with a practical and effective set of tools to help individuals and organizations identify, frame, and solve a wide array of problems. While the material will not in itself present sollutions it does provide a powerful and effective template for defining problem types and setting a course for solving them. I cannot imagine an organization, division, or individual who would not benefit from the material covered in this course. We look forward to putting the methodology into action within our company.”

Martin Tammik VP
Merchandising LTP Sports Group Inc.

“I found the seminar to be very valuable. Combining problem solving with decision making allowed me to see both of these subject areas in new ways. The instruction format was beneficial because it allowed everyone to deconstruct real-world scenarios. I would recommend this course to any business professional who is looking to improve their leadership skills.”

Mike Gitre
Director of IT Operations