Simon London: In the real world, we have a lot of uncertainty—arguably, increasing uncertainty. What are the constraints that exist? Without being too flippant, I can solve any problem during a good dinner with wine. It’s nothing different. Without getting too deep into the weeds, let’s go through the steps, one by one. What are the dependencies?” Let’s make those explicit and really push the thinking and defining. Become a bulletproof problem solver. It’s very iterative. Charles Conn: And it’s why diversity in our teams is so important. 0000001489 00000 n In any human setting, we also have to be careful about biases that are based on hierarchies, sometimes called sunflower bias. Simon London: I think we are, sadly, out of time for today. The 7-steps approach to problem solving has its roots in the hypothesis-driven structure of the scientific method, but was developed into an approach for business problem solving at McKinsey … The best teams allow divergent thinking to bump them off whatever their initial biases in problem solving are. As you say, you can solve the problem in one day or even one hour. Is the decision maker open to exploring other areas?” then you not only become more efficient, and move toward what we call the critical path in problem solving, but you also make it so much more likely that you’re not going to waste your time or your decision maker’s time. How often do especially bright young people run off with half of the idea about what the problem is and start collecting data and start building models—only to discover that they’ve really gone off half-cocked. To learn more about McKinsey, you can of course find us at This one almost presupposes that we don’t know the problem until we go see it. 0000028215 00000 n Hugo Sarrazin is a senior partner in the Silicon Valley office, where Simon London, a member of McKinsey Publishing, is also based. ?�I���%zK�9��,�t�J�'eN�jr����m?�_qp2`�{��9�q�pr�t�ԧ�]�Τ�[�gR�|"����a;C w�q�#�cSy�ؐ,Fީ����V�`k��v&�cbe�eH(�y�zB������tY��KM���O�Eӣx{|=�����?���_x�Q4�>��3��gz'��+�R*T|�6�F�"{ٵ�%�_ �&�ǁ�螞"|0�Z���ra���S. Charles and Hugo, welcome to the podcast. It’s actually to give you the scope for creativity, which often doesn’t exist when your problem solving is muddled. Every problem we’re solving has some complexity and some uncertainty in it. At McKinsey, we spend an enormous amount of time in writing that little statement, and the statement, if you’re a logic purist, is great. Charles Conn is CEO of Oxford Sciences Innovation and an alumnus of McKinsey’s Sydney office. We use cookies essential for this site to function well. 0000006923 00000 n 0000000016 00000 n Practical resources to help leaders navigate to the next normal: guides, tools, checklists, interviews and more. Mr. Jackey Yu Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company. Our flagship business publication has been defining and informing the senior-management agenda since 1964. You need to set up an environment to do so, but don’t get caught up in neural-network modeling immediately. Select topics and stay current with our latest insights, How to master the seven-step problem-solving process. Charles Conn: Maybe the easiest one is the classic profit tree. Don’t pretend that it isn’t there. Hugo Sarrazin: No, but it may be useful as a starting point. Step two, Charles? You can introduce that along the way. That’s not it at all. h�b```b``i``e`��gb@ !�(�� I have a son who’s a teenage climber. That simple tree often provides insight into what’s going on in a business or what the difference is between that business and the competitors. 0000002458 00000 n People create and sustain change. Then you got to the work plan. How do you pick the right tools? You think you’ve seen the problem before, and therefore what’s available is your previous conception of it—and we have to be most careful about that. You need to start there before you go deep into the modeling exercise. For me, the problem context is critical. You can think about questions like “What town would I like to live in?” or “Should I put solar panels on my roof?”, You might think that’s a funny thing to apply problem solving to, but in my mind it’s not fundamentally different from business problem solving, which answers the question “What should my strategy be?” Or problem solving at the policy level: “How do we combat climate change?” “Should I support the local school bond?” I think these are all part and parcel of the same type of question, “What should I do?”. There are some areas in which the pattern recognition of large data sets and good algorithms can help us see things that we otherwise couldn’t see. Want to subscribe to the McKinsey Podcast? In work planning, we’re always iterating. 0000004301 00000 n Simon London: I think, in a world of cross-functional teams, an interesting question is do people with design-thinking backgrounds really work well together with classical problem solvers? Be very clear about what the uncertainties are up front, and then build that into every step of the process.”. I’m a big fan of structured problem solving. You promote all these people because they did something that worked well in the past, and then there’s a disruption in the industry, and they keep doing what got them promoted even though the context has changed. In the problem definition, when you’re defining the context, you need to understand those sources of uncertainty and whether they’re important or not important. To discuss the art of problem solving, I sat down in California with McKinsey senior partner Hugo Sarrazin and also with Charles Conn. Charles is a former McKinsey partner, entrepreneur, executive, and coauthor of the book Bulletproof Problem Solving: The One Skill That Changes Everything [John Wiley & … This book should be read by students who consider working in management consultancy, describing the "McKinsey approved" 7-Step process of problem solving. You can use it to identify which elements you need to realign to improve performance, or to maintain alignment and performance during other changes. Charles Conn: Availability bias is the one that I’m always alert to. Design thinking—what is it, and how does it relate?
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