Effective problem solving is the most neglected organizational competency, often perpetuated by complacence about the status quo, a culture of blame, reluctance or inability to pursue true causes and lack of time. To address these issues, author Craig Cochran has written a new book, Problem Solving in Plain English (Paton Press, 2010).
“Managers need to re-examine their processes and problem-solving and think beyond the surface. If they understand their current process, then they can consider causes and potential causes of problems,” said Cochran, who is the north Atlanta region manager for Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Rarely is there a single root cause to be acted upon; most problems have a web of interrelated causes and potential causes.”
According to Cochran, effective problem solving is equal parts art and science, and he explains why problem-solving efforts that start out strong with motivated team members and supportive managers often fizzle out before they produce any benefits. Cochran suggests using a structured problem-solving method that focuses on processes rather than people.
“There are two problem-solving myths: the perfection myth and the punishment myth. The perfection myth is the belief that if everyone tries hard enough, no mistakes will be made. The punishment myth says that if we punish wrong-doers, fewer mistakes will be made,” he explained. “Using a structured problem-solving method ensures a degree of consistency and provides the framework for the successful application of analytical tools.”
This book is written for managers with long-standing business problems, as well as front-line employees who are often intimately familiar with dealing with them. Cochran covers a variety of topics, including selecting the right problem; forming effective problem-solving teams; planning and implementing corrective actions; verifying effectiveness; writing a problem statement; identifying root causes; and defining the current process.
Cochran has an M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a Certified Quality Manager, Certified Quality Engineer and Certified Quality Auditor through the American Society for Quality. He is also certified as a Quality Management Systems Lead Auditor through the Registrar Accreditation Board of the Quality Society of Australasia (RABQSA).
Cochran is also the author of The Continual Improvement Process: from Strategy to the Bottom Line; Customer Satisfaction: Tools, Techniques, and Formulas for Success; Becoming a Customer Focused Organization; and ISO 9001: In Plain English, all available from Paton Press (http://www.patonpress.com/). He has written numerous articles in national and international publications and is frequently featured as a speaker at conferences on quality, performance improvement and management.
For additional information about this book or Georgia Tech’s quality services, please contact Craig Cochran (678-699-1690); E-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
About the Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA
Writer: Nancy Fullbright