Having defined a rather complex problem so well last meeting, the decision making working party was ready to tackle what turned out to be an even more difficult part of the problem definition stage: stating the outcomes.
Stating the outcomes answers the question:
How will we know when the problem is solved?
This question and the discussion seemed to drag the group straight back into jumping to solutions. It was very difficult to steer them to think/visualize how ‘it’ would be once the problem no longer existed. The group did agree that the outcomes should be measurable otherwise it is too difficult to tell if there is an impovement trend or just ‘hiccups’ that look good but are not sustained. Some suggestions were made but at one point, the group became so bogged in trying to avoid solutions but find outcomes I suggested perhaps we break and look at solution criteria for a moment. At this point I am undecided at to whether it was a good idea to move forward then back. At first it seemed to confuse the group more. Some members couldn’t understand the difference between outcomes and solution criteria. But once I gave them examples from the book and the parents with experience in using similar methods in business further elaborated, they were set to give suggestions of solution criteria a go. The group also agreed that these should be quantifiable wherever possible.
We once again generated cards, this time one side had the statement:
“To improve ***** , the solution must ___”
and on the other was:
“To improve *****, the solution should ___”
The group worked on the cards individually so members each had an equal voice. Time was running out so I collected them and grouped them in the minutes I sent out after the meeting. We briefly returned to the outcomes for review and people seemed happier with what they had written but no consensus was reached at that point.
Photo: Logical outcome from http://www.flickr.com/photos/commandments/2128889805/