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How to Tame Big Hairy Monsters (Complex Business Problems)

Misbah Chaudhry, Enterprise Agile Coach, Unilever, Edison, NJ, USA

Keywords: Business Optimization, Problem Solving, Continuous Improvement Culture

Industry: Manufacturing

Level: Intermediate

Abstract

How to Tame Big Hairy Monsters

(Complex Business Problems)

Organizations sometimes don’t know how to solve ingrained business problems. Size does matter when it comes to the problem-solving culture of the organization. Smaller organizations seem to be nimbler yet might not have ample resources to allocate to the solutions. Larger organizations have the opposite problem. They are covered in the red tape of bureaucracy, hierarchy, processes, and legacy systems. Too many cooks in the kitchen might not completely spoil the broth, however it slows down the continuous process improvement culture. Large organizations do enjoy their reach, depth and resources once they finally get to the solution.

It doesn’t have to be this complicated if you follow the simple step by step approach to problem solving even within a large organization. Organizations put agile squads together to solve these long-lasting business problems in 4-6 sprints of 2 weeks each or even less. There is no clear roadmap to follow as the squad members have not been officially trained on any framework or methodology but do bring years of business expertise to the table. Failure is inevitable because these initiatives sit on top of their day jobs. A few team members are unavailable due to competing priorities leaving the rest to pull the weight. Lack of skills, capacity, commitment, and accountability create the perfect recipe for failure.

What happens next is even more shocking. When these initiatives don’t yield any results, the organizations simply don’t talk about it. Teams are disbanded and go back to their crazy work routines, their day jobs. The monster has now gotten even bigger and stronger. Learnings are not shared most of the time as these initiatives or experiments are considered fizzles for the business and leadership is hesitant to own failure. The vicious cycle continuous with new monsters being created every day yet the culture to tame them is missing or very weak.

So, what is the solution: This session will review the identification of opportunities as well as isolating them into the right size initiatives. Selection and invitation to the team members to represent business expertise, lean-six sigma and agile and the right mix is also covered. It will dive into a step-by-step approach to selecting the right team members as well as leveraging lean, six sigma, and agile to solve the problems as well as sustaining the solutions.


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