How to Run a Group Problem-Solving Session


It doesn’t matter what size your business is – one thing is for sure, you’ll face problems that need to be resolved. When a number of people and functions are affected, a group problem-solving session is often a quick and effective way to get to the heart of the issue.

So, how do you go about running a workshop that will be productive and result in a practical solution? Follow this framework and you’ll be in a good position to meet challenges head-on…

1. Get the right people together

Having the right mix of people in the room is the first step to solving your problem. Keep it small: choose a mix of thinkers and those with the best knowledge of the issue, as well as the people who’ll benefit most from finding a solution.

2. Be equipped

Find a space where you won’t be interrupted. There’ll be lots of information to capture and ideas to share, so make sure you’ve got a flip chart or whiteboard and plenty of sticky notes and pens.

3. Define and explore the problem

It might sound obvious, but you need to start by establishing a shared understanding of what the problem actually is – not just the symptoms, but the root cause. To define the issue fully, try asking ‘why’ five times to drill down its exact nature. Get the group to think about the requirements for the solution and any likely constraints, as well as what solutions you’ve already tried and why they haven’t worked. What will the consequences be if you don’t solve the problem? Working through these questions should align the group and help everyone to focus fully. 

Pointer: it may be that other issues come to the surface during your discussion. Don’t get distracted and ask that these be put in the ‘parking lot’ to be addressed another day.

4. Brainstorm the solution

Now you’re ready to harness the brainpower in the room to come up with a solution! Start by giving everyone a few minutes in silence to jot down their ideas on sticky notes. Encourage them to record as many ideas as possible to help get the creative juices flowing.

Next, get your team to stick their notes to the wall so you can read them out to the group. At this point, you want lots of suggestions, so ask your team to suspend judgement as you feed them back. Now you can discuss which ideas are the strongest, and get the team to do a ‘dot vote’ by penning a mark on their favourites.

5. Pull it together

Once you’ve refined and evaluated the options, there may be a clear ‘winner’ amongst your ideas. If not, ask the problem’s owner to identify what they think is the best solution. From there, you can make recommendations, agree next steps and decide who’ll do what. Attach clear timescales for delivering the solution and, finally, book in a follow-up session so that your team knows when they’ll be expected to report back on progress.

Have you got any tips for tackling problems together? Let us know @OregaOffices!

Header Image Source: Pixabay

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