Consulting toolkit defining the question

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Consulting toolkit defining the question

  1. 1. CONSULTING TOOLKIT Setting up the Problem Defining the Question© 2007-2012 IESIES Development Ltd. All Ltd. Reserved © 2007-2012 Development Rights All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. If you start off your problem solving with a good question, you greatly improve the chances of getting a good answer “If I had an hour to save the world I would spend 55 minutes defining theproblem and 5 minutes finding solutions” Albert Einstein © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  3. 3. Even if you are given a question, you should still challenge your thinking to find a better oneWHY YOU NEED TO DEFINE YOUR OWN QUESTION • Your client/boss/the case is unlikely to serve up the best question • In your search for a better question, you will understand the problem better • You will differentiate yourself © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  4. 4. The question that you choose to answer determines the scope of the solutions that you will considerQUESTIONS DEFINE SCOPE Question Implied Out of Scope  Question 1: “How can Dell improve  Almost nothing profit?”  Question 2: “How can Dell improve • Ideas less than $100m profit by $100m within 12 months?” • Ideas that take longer than 12 months to implement  Question 3: “How can Dell improve • Ideas to grow revenue profit by $100m within 12 months by • Cost cutting ideas outside reducing manufacturing cost?” manufacturing Which question would you prefer? © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  5. 5. Your choice of question represents a trade-off in scopeNarrow scope•Simplifies problem•Reduces analytical Broad scopeworkload •Allows maximum creativity •More likely best solution is included © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  6. 6. Exploring to find a better question is an iterative process ITERATING THE KEY QUESTION 1. 1. “How can Dell improve profit?” 2. 2. “How can Dell increase profit $100m?” 3. 3. “How can Dell increase profit $100m within 6 months?” 2 4. 4. “How can Dell increase profit $100m within 6 months and build their brand?” 1 5. 5. “How can Dell increase profit $100m within 6 months by cutting costs?” 3 7 6 6. 6. “How can Dell increase profit $100m within 6 months by reducing 5 manufacturing costs? 7. 7. “How can Dell increase profit $100m 4 within 6 months by reducing manufacturing costs without compromising quality?”020910 Chris Doran © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved 5
  7. 7. There are techniques you can use to help you explore the questionTIPS FOR ITERATING YOUR QUESTION•“Chunk” up to the bigger picture and down to narrower detail•Identify assumptions implied by your question and challenge them e.g. “How can we manage our JV partner better?” has an implied assumption that we need to manage our JV partner•Try pumping up the volume e.g. instead of “How can we reach breakeven?” try “How can we survive?”•Try a “SMART” goal - $ order of magnitude and specific time horizon•Rephrase key words to liberate new perspectives•Reframe negative questions as positive e.g. “How do we avoid decline?” becomes “How do we grow ?” © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  8. 8. When you have a question, ask yourself if it is the key oneCHECKING YOUR KEY QUESTION1) Is this the most important (in $ terms) problem the company faces at the moment? Will they be happy to get an answer?2) Is it urgent to resolve?3) Does the question give us the scope to tackle the root cause(s)?4) Is this question as specific as it can be to narrow the scope?5) Do we believe we will find an answer to this question?6) Will the answer be action, not facts? TIP: Avoid double-barrelled questions © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  9. 9. Sometimes a “gap analysis” can be a useful way to explore the problem Problem Framing GAP ANALYSISCurrent Situation Desired Situation Gap © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  10. 10. The most important stage in solving a problem is to define the problem Problem FramingPROBLEM DEFINITION SHEETSituationComplicationKey Question In Scope Out of Scope Criteria for selecting solution © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  11. 11. The most important stage in solving a problem is to define the problem Problem FramingPROBLEM DEFINITION SHEETSituation What are the important facts?Complication Why does action need to be taken? What is the urgency? Is it a threat or an opportunity?Key Question What is the question our recommendation will answer? In Scope Out of Scope Criteria for selecting solution What is What is not included in included in How will we select our scope? our scope? the best solution? © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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