From problem to solution: The 8-Step Simplex Method

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The best businesses operate through the LEAN technique - you try one thing, see what happens, do the second thing, continue. It is similar in creation and in the architecture of your life.

How can you clarify the problems that plague you so that you can find solutions? SIMPLEX technology is here to help.

Missing even one detail can mean total failure or the loss of a perfect opportunity.

Min Basadur developed the tool and described it in his book "The Power of Innovation". It is suitable for all kinds of problems: domestic and business. Simplex consists of 8 steps.


1) Questions.

Your problems may be very clear, but if not, we can make them more concrete with these questions:

  1. How can I improve the product or service to make it more satisfying (for customers)?
  2. What complaints do you hear (from customers)?
  3. What would they do better if we gave them our help?
  4. Who can benefit from our knowledge?
  5. What are the small problems that could become big problems and how would they affect our business?
  6. What is holding us back and making it harder to do business?
  7. How can we improve quality?
  8. What are we not doing that our competitors are?
  9. What's annoying and frustrating for our team?

These questions address a problem that exists now. But it is also advisable to look to the future, to make plans. Look at how customers and the market itself might change in a few years' time. It is advisable to look at the problem from other perspectives. The six hats and six shoes approach is perfect for this.

2) Facts.

This stage is designed to investigate an existing problem.

  1. Analyse other people's attitudes and perceptions of the problem situation.
  2. Explore the ideas that your competitors have implemented.
  3. Analyse customer needs in detail.
  4. Don't repeat what has already been done.
  5. Fully understand the processes, details, technologies, services you are going to use.
  6. Make sure that the effort you put into finding a solution is worth it.

With this phase, you will make sure that all the solutions you are about to implement are realistic and tangible.

3) Description.

By the time you reach this stage, you should know what the problem is, as well as all the facts about it.

From here you need to identify the exact problem or problems you want to solve.

It is important to tackle the problem at the right level. If you ask too much broad questions, the answers may not be as effective as you would like. If you ask too many questions for accurate questions, you may only solve the symptoms and components of the problem, not the core of it.

Min Basadur suggests that instead of asking "why", we should ask "what is stopping you".

Example: if a tree you planted is dying, you can ask "Why do I want the tree to be healthy?", which can extend to "How can I influence the quality of our environment".

Big problems are usually made up of many small ones, and this is the stage where you can use the 6k and 5k methods. They are great for improving understanding of the problem.

4) Idea generation.

This is the stage where the aim is to generate as many ideas as possible. All idea generation tools can be used. Brainstorming is the perfect method for this.

Don't criticise or judge ideas at this level, just concentrate on generating ideas.

Remember, the wrong ideas can be the road to genius.

5) Selecting ideas.

We already have the ideas, all that's left to do is choose the best ones.

The best solution may be obvious.

If not, you should think carefully about the criteria you will use to assess it. Analyse the future prospects of the idea, its application in reality and any difficulties you may encounter in implementing it.

Well, once the idea is clear, it's time to develop it as widely as possible. The main rule is to make sure it is worth your effort. Don't let your ego overwhelm your common sense.

If your idea is not expected to pay off in the future, it is advisable to repeat the whole approach from the beginning.

And how do you know if your idea is worthy of attention? The answer is simple - analyse it against the following criteria:

  1. Risk analysis - helps you understand where you can go wrong.
  2. Force field analysis - this will help you explore the pros and cons.
  3. The Six Hats approach - allowing you to examine your decision from a variety of perspectives.

6) Planning.

Once you have chosen an idea and are confident of its success, it's time to start planning its implementation. An action plan will help you to stay on track and meet your commitments on time.

7) Sales.

By this point, you should have already started implementing your idea.

Now it's time to find the people who will buy it to support you.

This could be your employer, an investor or any other interested person.

8) Action.

Finally, after all the steps, the action begins.

This is where all your hard work and planning pays off. Once your idea is "rolling", you can move on to the first step and refine it.

...And this is essentially the SIMPLEX problem-solving technique.

It may not be a miracle, but if you don't know what to do, following these steps is better than doing nothing.



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