Friday, 4 August 2017

SPEED - Solving Problems Efficiently, Effectively & Decisively

Problem solving has, in this new generation found a more positive approach in that more focus is provided to the solution than the problem itself. This is a good shift away from the old problem-based orientation as it provides a variety of methods to apply. Thus, instead of focusing on passive 'problem-solving', it is the more active 'solving problems'.

In the EnSync methodology of solving problems called SPEED, there are several levels of focus: 1 principle which outlines the approach, 2 strategies that provide high-level orientations, 4 pillars of values and a categorisation of 4 problem types.

SPEED Principle
The principle of SPEED is the Melayu proverb: "Extract a strand of hair from a mound of flour. The hair is unbroken while the flour remains undisturbed."

The proverb speaks of making small but significant changes that minimise disruption yet achieves the objectives of the changes.

SPEED Strategies
The 2 core strategies of SPEED are:

1. "Help others sincerely in solving THEIR problems and Allah will make YOUR problems easier to resolve" - This is accepting that man was created to serve Allah, thus play a role in creating peace on Earth as His vicegerents. As such, His blessings are available for anyone who truly assist others to save them from difficulty. Even if you do not know how, Allah will show you the way. Just want to help, and help will come.

In a non-religious sense, it creates a bank of account of goodwill (thank you Dr Stephen Covey) that can certainly help when you are in need.

2. "Ask for help" - Keeping a problem to oneself will only stretch the limit of human capacity. By sharing his challenges and goals, one widens his capacity to receive assistance by other people or communities. Asking for help from Allah and His creation is not a sign of weakness. It is, in fact, a sign of humility.

SPEED Pillars
SPEED is built upon 4 pillars, meaning when you inculcate these as your lifelong values, they will support your solving efforts. They are:

1. Acceptance - this refers to redha. Accept the reality of the situation and quickly move to resolve it.

2. Confidence - this refers to yaqin. Every disease has its cure. Every problem has a resolution, whether it resolves in your favour or otherwise. Therefore, become involved in the problem and solve it in your favour rather than stand back and do nothing.

3. Determination - this is doing everything with stamina and passion to find a solution, even if you don't see it yet. Have faith.

4. Improvement - this refers to muhasabah. When you are once burned, why get a credit card again? After the tsunami, Malaysia is now better prepared. After our personal tsunamis, we want to be better prepared too.

Risk or Issue?
A problem is identified first as a Risk or an Issue. A risk is a potential problem and an issue is a present problem. Most people solve issues yet forget that risks, when left unprepared for, can develop exponentially into issues.

In a car, a neglecting to change a RM300 timing belt can easily escalate to becoming a RM3000 engine overhaul. A habit of not wearing the seatbelt can easily cause sudden and painful orphanhood.

Problem Types
SPEED recognises that analysing problems is the first step to understanding its complexity since most problems have many moving parts. It is because of this that solvers sometimes oversimplify a problem and aren't able to resolve the cause-and-effects of a complex 'problem'.

To see clearer, SPEED categorises all problems into only 4 types, represented by the acronym PDRM:

1. Process - resolving bottlenecks, blockages, lack of resources, delays, etc to maintain a controllable and desirable flow of value.

2. Decisions - weighing between two or more similar options and choosing between them based on merit and being able to defend the decision.

3. Relationships - communicating clearly and persuading other people with as minimal emotional turmoil as possible to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

4. Motivation - individual purpose and drive.

Most problems come as a mix of two or all four of the above, which, as previously mentioned, makes solving them challenging. Some people categorise health problems as a process issue. All they need is the money for an operation. Once they have it, they believe the problem is solved.

There is also the possibility that one's health problem affects one's motivation to live thus contributes them to die in the operating room or to take too long to heal.

This strains familial relationships. Thus, in this case, the 'health' problem comes bundled 3 disguised as 1.

Therefore, analyse the problems separately and solve them at the same time rather than sequentially.

Final Solution (Islamic version)
As human beings, we must accept that our ability to process problems are very limited, even when we work together en masse. Thus, the realisation that Allah is the Ultimate Solver leads us to use that final and most powerful of tools in our toolbox, and that is supplication (du'a). For solving problems certainly feels like going to war, and Du'a is the weapon of the mu'minun.

Solving the Intangible

They say, the 'problem' with problems is emotions. If feelings weren't part of the equation, every decision, every solution, every action wouldn't hurt as much.

Too many humans on the planet. Kill some so others may live comfortably.

We need cheap labour. Clone genetically-altered humans with lower intelligence and use them to serve homo sapiens.

Terminate all pregnancies with genetic disorders.

The very fact that you cringed at those three sentences shows that you are in fact, still very much, human. With emotions.

However, that isn't the problem. The problem is that we ignore that we have these emotions. And that is when problems don't get solved.

In many situations, individuals, organisations and countries hold to a left-brain view of problems, that the only risks and issues that matter are those of processes and decisions.

Unfortunately, they forget the intangible ones, less easy to quantify: relationships and motivation.

I have met people who say to me when I propose a solution, "That's easy for you to say". When I ask them what they mean, they never refer to the ineffectiveness of the solution, rather the lack of acceptance or push-back by someone else.

When people misdiagnose an issue to be either process-related such as bottlenecks, resource-poorness and low productivity, they throw money at it, expecting it to be solved.

But when people are purposely sabotaging each other in the office, causing deliverables to be completed late, do bosses really believe that investing in Standard Operating Procedures, providing more A4 paper, better equipment or even installing a fancy software will solve it?

The sabotage will continue, because the problem is Relationships.

Human Resources Departments can't fathom why, when they offer monetary incentives, nothing happens to raise their employee's motivations. Money means nothing to one who has no purpose to work towards.

Emotions are an inseparable part of humanity, and no amount of drumming in definitions of "professionalism" can drum that out of them.

The solution, while simple to say, is to accept that the four problems types of Processes, Decisions, Relationships and Motivation (PDRM) are equally valid and in most cases, interact and affect one another.

In this way, all problems are actually a complex mix of at least two or all four. They never come alone. A change or solution to a process affects relationships, which impairs decisions, which lowers motivation, as one example of their interaction.

Approach all problems as if they were an impostor. They might look like one type of problem on the surface, but they usually hide many knots that require unraveling. Take the time and work through the strands. Just remember that behind the strands you can see, are those you can't.

See the emotions, and you can solve them.