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The ABC Problem Solving Strategy

Good problem-solving takes practice and concentration, and it can be invaluable in a pinch, not unlike karate. A Project Management Hacks post by Bruce Harpham lays out the ABC Strategy for problem-solving. If your mind is open, you are ready to learn.

A – Assess Relationship Impact

In karate, one must always pause to understand the whole picture before taking decisive action. What this amounts to is the command “don’t panic.” Harpham says that the “whole picture” in a risk management scenario involves relationships (not physical attackers). He lists family, colleagues, the organization, and stakeholders as important relationships to consider. When a problem strikes, the greatest source of help and that which deserves the most protection is other people.

B – Blow the Alarm

It may be that karate is more about self-reliance and about helping others rather than oneself. But in an institutional setting, the greatest power comes from collaboration, and the “self” in this context is not a single individual, but rather the business itself. To that effect, drawing on the help of others is akin to focusing institutional energy at the point of contact with the problem. Like breaking a cinder block with a single chop, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when all efforts coalesce around a single cause.

C – Change the Calendar

After the dust has settled, it is important in martial arts to reflect upon what has been learned from the encounter. In managing risk this is especially true. Harpham draws on the insights of social media expert Chris Brogan, who schedules only 40% of his overall tasks on a given day. “I think a lot of people run their life in this other way,” says Harpham, “They schedule their days to 120% and then they’re always dropping plates all over and they feel completely hectic.” Though it sometimes feels impossible, adding buffers around only the most critical tasks will ensure that unexpected problems can be handled in the future.

Read the full blog post at: http://projectmanagementhacks.com/problem-solving-strategy/#sthash.RfLj2AcK.7diuAs3r.dpbs

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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