Asking the Data Geeks to Use Good Problem Solving

The other day I was catching up on reading some blogs.  I came across one on the Harvard Review Blog titled “Seven Questions to Ask Your Data Geek.”

The title drew me in because I can be a data geek myself sometimes.

The seven questions caught my eye very quickly.  When you read them you can see they are related to what good problem solvers with lean thinking ask.

  1. What problem are you trying to solve?  You want to be sure there is a problem to solve and not just a band aide or a just going and implementing something the customer wants.  You want to truly understand what is needed.  This is the first question to ask because it helps to define the problem.
  2. Do you have a deep understanding of what the data really means?  Read between the lines and it says to get off your rump and go and see what is really happening.  The data is a good directional start, but how are people gathering the data?  How are people using the data?  The person needs to understand what is really happening.
  3. Should we trust the data? Now that you have gone out and seen how the data is really gathered, can we use the data to help with the problem we are trying to solve?  Do we need to gather different data to better understand the problem?
  4. Are there  “big factors”, preconceived notions, hidden assumptions or conflicting data that could compromise your analysis?  This is still getting at drilling deeper and understanding the current state for the data.  During the problem solving process you should be spending about 75% of the time just understanding what is really going on before looking for solutions.  As you can see the first four questions are about understanding the current state.
  5. Will your conclusions standup to the scrutiny of our markets, moderately changing conditions, and a “worst-case scenario?” Now that you have deeper understood the current state, you start looking for solutions.  Will the solution hold up?  Are you getting to the true root cause of the problem?  Will the problem be eliminated?
  6. Who will be impacted and how?  Now that you understand the problem and have a solution you need to know how this will affect the business.  Change management should always be a piece of the problem solving process, because changes always affect people.  Sometimes they embrace the change it if helps them a lot.  Sometimes they don’t embrace the change, so always be aware.
  7. What can I do to help?  Always be willing to help fix the problem.  Don’t always leave it to someone else.

These are seven great questions to ask anyone when problem solving, not just your data geek.

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Posted on July 1, 2013, in Problem Solving, Technology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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