Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse

on August 27, 2008

Have you ever been invited to help co-create a solution? It can feel daunting whether you have a whole day to discuss the issue and come up with an appropriate and effective solution or just an hour. The big question is always – where do you begin? Most people want to automatically go to “solution mode,” rather than spending the time necessary to explore the root (no pun intended) cause of why we have been brought to the table. As part of a meeting recently, we spent the morning talking and talking without gaining true clarity into what we were solving for, which makes it challenging to find the most effective solution.

After taking a moment to regroup, we decided to go back to basics.  Remembering that the art of facilitation can be the most effective way to produce clear, successful solutions, we wrote three questions on a white board (when in doubt, return to the tried-and-true white board):

What are the goals of the solution we need to create?

Who is the target audience?

What outcomes would define success?

These simple questions led our conversation for the next several hours.  By facilitating a conversation within the framework of these three questions, we could clearly determine the most effective solution to help the client solve for their desired outcomes.

It was simple, incredibly straightforward and, in the end, everyone was completely confident with the proposed way forward.  The old adage still rings true:  Don’t put the cart before the horse.  Take the time to discuss the goals, the audience, and the desired outcomes before jumping directly to a solution.  In this way, the solution will be even more meaningful and will inevitably provide more value.

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