As the world becomes more and more complicated, problem-solving power is becoming more important. Everywhere, every day, everybody wrestles with each problem. However, I don't know what to think about, and I think there are many situations where I stop thinking. This book is the savior at that time.
After working for McKinsey and Recruit, the author is now in charge of the problem-solving ability course of Business Breakthrough Co., Ltd., and he is also a lecturer at corporate training and BBT University. However, at the beginning, he said he was not good at solving problems. Because such an author could have written a truly usable "new problem-solving textbook" that meets the needs of the field.
When trying to solve any problem, we first try to gather information. You can use the Internet to collect all kinds of information from around the world. However, the amount is enormous, and we are at a loss in the sea of information. What should I do to prevent this?
In this book, "Problem Solving Map" and "7 Weapons" are shown as necessary for problem solving. In RPG, there are always "maps" and "weapons", but so is the reality. Without a map, you don't know where you are or where you should go. And if you use your weapons effectively, you'll get better results.
If you have the right maps and weapons, you can surely reach a happy ending. Let's go on a journey to solve problems together with this book.
Main points of this book
Business leaders should focus on hypothesis verification type problem solving. The key to that is "good hypothesis power".
In solving problems, it is necessary to work on the current situation (WHERE), essential problem discovery (WHY), and solution planning (HOW) in this order.
The important thing is to have a “view of the business manager”. From the information obtained from a bird's-eye view of the entire business, setting the most probable tentative answer as the cause is a good hypothetical power.
Summary of this document
What you need to solve a problem is a hypothetical power: Get a "map" and a "weapon"
This book is not for young people or managers. It is an explanation of problem-solving power for business leaders (section chiefs and section chiefs). Business leaders must look at the business as a whole, not just the parts, and then identify the challenges that need to be addressed. What is needed there is the ability to reason over the entire business and reason, that is, "reliable hypothesis power" and hypothesis verification-type problem solving power.
Information is the key to solving problems. However, many people get lost without being able to find a path to a solution because they run to collect information without a clear purpose. That is very inefficient. It is much easier to solve a problem if you first make a good hypothesis and then gather the information necessary to test the hypothesis.
In this book, we will introduce a "map" (problem solving map) for confirming the way to go without getting lost in problem solving and a "weapon" for making a good hypothesis.
First of all, get the "Map": Problem Solving Map
Understanding the position of oneself is important in problem solving. You have to figure out the direction you should go and evaluate the path you have taken, whether or not you need to correct the trajectory.
A useful framework for this is the problem solving map. This classifies the problem-solving process into three categories: "understanding the current situation (WHERE)," "discovering essential problems (WHY)" and "solution planning (HOW)." The details of each step are as follows.
First, in understanding the current situation (WHERE), analyze the current situation, identify the place where the problem is occurring, and think what to set as the problem. Many people skip this point and start thinking from the WHY part, but without understanding the current situation, a good hypothesis cannot be created.
Next, in essential task discovery (WHY), information that is in line with the hypothesis is collected and the information is summarized. And think about what the essential issues are.
In solution planning (HOW), the major direction of problem solving is decided and then concrete ideas are considered. If you come up with an idea without deciding on the direction, it will just end up with an idea. Finally, the idea is evaluated and the action plan is decided.
Understanding the current situation (WHERE)
Current situation analysis: Divide with care
From here, we will set up a fictitious case, explain the three processes in the problem solving map in seven steps, and introduce the "weapon" in each step.
The stage is the Suit Special Co., Ltd. Yurakucho store, which has 10 stores in central Tokyo. Although it has been steadily growing its performance so far, the advertising expense ratio has risen and sales have been sluggish recently. As the store manager, you have been appointed as a special project manager for sales recovery. We must discover the essential issues and propose solutions to them.
Problem solving begins with the subdivision of what is happening. Anyway, it is important to divide carefully. Companies and organizations consist of multiple elements. Problems do not occur evenly within such complexes, but often at some particular point. In order to find the place where the problem occurs, the work of dividing it is important above all. It affects the success or failure of problem solving.
The weapon here is to "divide with great care." It is meaningless unless you divide it so that the bad part and the bad part are clear, that is, there is a difference. That is a good way to divide. When thinking about the cut, it is also important to be aware of no leakage or duplication (MECE).
Then, what kind of approach can be considered in analyzing the current situation of suit specials? One way is to break down sales into "number of customers visiting the store" x "purchase rate" x "unit price", and it is also possible to divide customers by age, whether there are reservations when visiting the store, or by dividing new customers and existing customers. It is.
Problem Recognition: Looking for Irritated Glitter
Let's analyze the actual in-house data once we have made the cut while being aware of the characteristics of the business.
Looking at the sales data, let's say that while the total number of purchases is increasing, the unit purchase price is decreasing. Among the three suit models, the sales price of the original model, which has the highest unit price, is declining, which seems to reduce the unit purchase price. In addition, data on advance reservations show that the number of reservations is increasing, but the purchase rate is decreasing.
The problem is "the difference between what it should be and what it is." If sales are down 20% year-on-year, then closing that gap is a challenge. However, there must be a feeling that "I really want to solve it" as an organization person.
The weapon that appears there is "Find frustrated glitter". Unless you are irritated by saying, "It's no good as it is," or "I'm shining in the image of what you want," you can never achieve troublesome and energetic problem solving. Only if you face yourself here is it possible for you to achieve results without getting lost in the second half of the process.
[Must-read point!] Essential problem discovery (WHY)
Information gathering: Business manager's perspective
Let's say that the problem addressed by the suit special is set as "returning depressed sales to the original level within one year". Then, as a result of analyzing the in-house data, it was found that "the unit price of purchase decreased due to a decrease in the sales ratio of the original model" and "the number of reservations increased but the purchase rate decreased".
The next thing we need to do is gather information and find the cause of the problem. For efficient information gathering, start by making a hypothesis about the possible causes. This is called the "cause hypothesis". Based on the information we know at the moment, we will set the most likely temporary answer. Since humans tend to think in areas they are familiar with, be aware not to be trapped there but to broaden your horizons.
A useful weapon here is the perspective of the business manager. The point of view of the business manager is a map showing the flow of business. Keeping this in mind will give you a bird's eye view of the entire business and help you make good assumptions.
From left to right, the structure of the map is the “market” in which companies compete, the “targets” that they aim for, the “customers” who provide value in response to their needs, the “products and services” they provide, and the “value chain” to achieve that (Flow of corporate activities)” and “Organization (human resources)” are lined up. The results of corporate activities up to this point are expressed as "accounting figures" such as sales and profits, and "competitiveness (share)" in the market. Under this series of business flows, there is an “external environment” that affects everything.
The map shows that the cause of the problem is always in the behavioral part of the company. The pattern of the causal hypothesis mentioned above can help you to imagine what is happening in your company by considering whether there is a problem in each element, and it will be a hint to make a good hypothesis.
Issue extraction: gathering a lot of information
Once the information has been collected, issues will be extracted based on the collected information. The point to be aware of here is how to handle information. Rather than picking up important information from each piece of collected information, think about what can be said about the collected information. Here, the technology of "collecting a lot of information" is a weapon.
In problem solving, it is desirable to make the maximum impact with the minimum resources. All that is required is to identify the worst part of the problem. That is the essential issue. If there are multiple possible causes, select the one with the highest impact.
In the suit special example, tasks were extracted from the collected information as follows.
(A) "The unit price of purchases decreased due to a decrease in the sales ratio of the original models" because the high-priced original models do not reach detailed full-order stores. In addition, customers in their 30s, who have increased their number of customers through web marketing, prefer the stylish model.
(B) “The number of reservations has increased, but the purchase rate has decreased” is that we have not been able to serve new customers increased due to the strengthening of web marketing, and we are preparing a model demanded by customers in their 30s Because it was not done.
In summary, it is considered that the essential issue of suit specials is that "we cannot win full-order stores in the high-priced range, and strengthen marketing to create inefficient store operations".
Solution Planning (HOW)
Solution Directions: Four Strategies
After extracting the essential issues, it is finally time to move to the stage of solution formulation. But the point here is not to come up with a solution immediately. Considering the whole business, we have to think about what direction and direction of the company to change based on what kind of strategy. It is impossible to solve problems without holding the overall picture of strategy.
The weapons here are "four strategic theories", that is, (1) a strategy of share top companies that utilizes the scale "cost leadership strategy", (2) a "differentiation strategy" that specializes in the needs of specific customers, (3) A "customer lock-in strategy" that focuses on channels to enclose customers, and (4) a "solution strategy" that responds to customer requests.
Which of these four strategies should be used for suit specials? The company's essential issue was that it could not beat full-order stores in the high-priced range and strengthen marketing to create inefficient store operations. Therefore, first of all, it is necessary to provide the order suit that the target customer seeks by the "differentiation strategy". In addition, the “customer lock-in strategy” can be used to increase the number of repeat customers.
Once the strategic theory is decided, we will consider which part of the company should be changed to solve the problem and the direction of the solution. For example, redefine core targets to review product lineups, reallocate advertising budgets and review advertising content to promote marketing efficiency. Furthermore, it is necessary to consider efficient customer service in stores, such as improving the quality of customer service for new customers and strengthening the acquisition of repeat customers.
When assigning these priorities, it is advisable to consider “feasibility” and “impact”. At this point, I can finally come up with an idea for a concrete solution.
Recommendation of reading
In the subsequent “Idea Creation”, we will have to finally think about what we will do concretely, but we should not think softly, “I just give ideas”. An interesting idea that works is not so easy to think of. However, this book has done just that, and you can get a weapon that "evolves ideas you can think of."
The final “assessment” considers which of the ideas you should implement. I would like to thank you not only for the cost and timeline, but also for the important points that you must remember when selecting an action plan.
This book covers everything from how to write problem-solving stories to simulations of presentations, and it is a complete content. If you read it, you will be able to feel that problem solving is sure to be a fun work.