In our fast-paced work life, having some tools to think comprehensively can allow us to make better decisions and achieve the results we want faster.
Early in my career I made a decision to leave Blue Cross and Blue Shield based on incomplete information. My emotions and youthful zeal were a strong factor in making that decision.
When I asked for counsel, most people just shared their opinion with me which was not very helpful. I needed a process to think comprehensively about the decision with a spirit of prayer and surrender.
Thinking comprehensively or thinking outside the box seems to be a lost art these days. People are going with their “heart” (aka emotions) or listening to their “gut” (intuition). When we as leaders don’t make the time to think deeply about important matters we end of with a “ready, fire, aim” mentality.
Do you find yourself making rash decisions?
Do you want a sounding board before making a decision?
Do you want to be sure to examine an issue thoroughly?
Do you want to make logical decisions with the most important facts?
The Benefits of developing the ability to Think Comprehensively include:
- You will make better and wiser decisions.
- You will feel more confident after making a decision.
- You will create a repeatable process.
- You will create repeatable solutions to common problems.
- You will be perceived as a “thought leader.”
What is a big project, problem or decision you are working through?
Tools for Thinking Comprehensively
There are many tools for thinking comprehensively which include: define the problem, Pareto analysis, Fishbone, SWOT, Ben Franklin, McKinsey 7S, Risk assessment, Logic tree, Process assessment, Frameworks and others.
Here are examples of some of these tools:
When thinking through an issue, challenge or project these are the areas which can be considered: strategy, structure, skills, style, staff, systems and shared values. Identifying which of these are primary, secondary or tertiary will bring instant clarity to your thinking.
Hypothesis-Driven Problem Solving
Take an idea under consideration and answer these four questions about that hypothesis:
- How will I analyze this idea to test it?
- Who do I need run this idea by to make progress?
- When do I need to solve this problem?
- What are the results of solving this issue?
Imagine a picture of a tree with trunk and branches above ground. Now see the root systems below. Take a problem and write that on a whiteboard or paper above the line. Then begin to identify the root causes below the ground. Visually seeing the logic tree from highest level down to the tactical root causes brings helpful insights.
Three Steps Process
Step 1: Define the problem or gap correctly.
Where are you now? Where do you want to go? When do you want to be there?
Step 2: Evaluate what is causing the gap.
What are the internal reasons? What are the external reasons?
Step 3: Design the strategic plan.
What are the steps to get us to the goal?
Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it. ~ Henry Ford