Framework 79 - Problem-Solving (McKinsey Approach)


This is a disciplined approach to hypothesis-driven problem-solving in change management that involves the application of

- hierarchical decomposition (breaking big problems down into smaller ones)

- step-wise refinement (start by describing what you want to achieve as general functions; break it down into more details which are redefined in successive steps until the whole is fully defined)

"...Problem-solving skills are becoming more critical and account for a higher proportion of workload due to automation and advances in technology such as artificial intelligence..."

David Maloney 2019

It is a 7 step recipe represented in a circular framework, reiterate until you get it right.

Seven Steps

1. Problem definition (get to the heart of the issue(s), especially causes that are driving the opportunity or challenge)

2. Disaggregation (breaking down big challenges into smaller ones; involves repackaging complex challenges using a simplified contextual framework laid out horizontal on a page, eg landscape orientation)

3. Prioritisation (ruthlessly prioritise the assignment)

4. Build and regularly review plans and processes (daily review of what has happened; adjust your thinking and actions appropriately based on the reviews)

5. Analysis (getting the critical data required for analysis, ie finding useful data within a set budget)

6. Synthesising the results (finding the answers from the data)

7. Telling a great story (providing the answers with the justifications based on the earlier steps; building trust with your client)

NB This needs to be combined with approaches like strategy, execution and transformation

(sources: Charles Conn et al 2019; David Maloney 2019)

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