In recent posts, we’ve highlighted the value of incorporating design thinking principles and focusing on divergence before convergence when creating leadership development programs. Along the same lines, and this may sound counterintuitive, we’ve also learned that deeply focusing on the problem before moving to the solution is crucial to solving the right problem altogether.

Properly identifying the business challenge before jumping to solutions ensures the business simulation is addressing the underlying cause and not simply the symptoms.

Clients often come to us when they want to address a learning and development challenge they believe exists because they have experience, or sometimes data to back them up. They might also have developed solutions to the perceived problem before they even engage with us.

When this happens, we don’t disregard their insights—but we’ve learned that accepting foregone conclusions as fact can create other issues when we move into the development of a custom e-learning tool, such as a business simulation.

Focusing on the problem instead of the solution means we try to reach common understanding around root causes before doing anything else. Through design thinking exercises, we ask such questions as:

  •        What assumptions are we making about our learners?
  •        What facts do we absolutely know?
  •        What behavior is causing the problem?
  •        What observable behaviors should be prioritized?
  •        What goals, attributes, and design implications can we identify for the users?
  •        How would the user (learner, facilitator, administrator) feel as they experience our envisioned solution?
  •        And maybe most important, what problem are we solving?

Lean principles remind us to ensure that we “build the right thing” so that later we can “build the thing right.” At The Regis Company, we believe that this starts with a focus on understanding the right problem to solve before committing resources to solving it.  

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Dianne Miller and Emily Ricci

Author Dianne Miller and Emily Ricci

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