“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
We have two practice areas at MCFA – Strategy & Planning and Program Management & Construction Management.
The latter speaks for itself, but we get asked all the time what Strategy & Planning is? My answer? What isn’t Strategy & Planning!?!
Strategy & Planning is the very critical part of Project Development – it’s Project Definition! Ever try to write a scope of work without knowing what the problem you were trying to solve is? Sure, everyone knows there is some problem that requires some solution. Maybe you even know it’s a facility or infrastructure or real estate problem. But have you really asked yourself, “What problem are we trying to solve?”
Our Strategy services focus on Problem Definition. Asking a lot of questions to a lot of people. We aren’t building a home for just a husband and wife (although we have…), our clients’ organizations are complex, and their stakeholders are many. Strategy is doing everything we can to help define and solve their problems. We ask questions, listen to answers, brainstorm, argue, whiteboard, play devil’s advocate, interview, survey, and STRATEGIZE. And then we plan.
Our Planning is focused on Project Development. We aren’t trying to strategize just to put a report on a shelf. Our plans are focused on financial, technical, organizational, and defendable courses of action to solve problems – underwrite risk, expand missions, and create value!
Maybe you need us to help….maybe you don’t. But before you worry about “Program Management,” we encourage you to focus on Problem Definition and Project Development. Here are some tips on how to look at your problem/program/project differently:
- Ask yourself, “What problem are we trying to solve?”
- If this was easy, what would we do?
- Consider a broader or narrower problem.
- What would a great result to this problem look like?
- Reverse the problem and think about what you would do to generate the opposite intended result.
- Assume there’s more than one solution…or in other words, assume you are wrong.
- Rewrite the problem from the perspective of different stakeholders.
- Do market research, talk to experts, or my favorite…GOOGLE IT. Maybe I’m too new age, but it’s the modern-day! Library on your phone!
In an instant-gratification world, we want solutions NOW! But taking the time to really understand the problem will save you time and money in the solution stage, I promise.
Finally, every problem needs a Champion (I’m talking to YOU, LEADERS!!!) to keep the organization focused on solving. For every big problem/project/program, someone has to be waking up every morning thinking about, “What are we doing today to move the ball forward?” So many of us get stuck in the “that’s how we’ve always done it” mindset that we forget to think about alternate solutions, more efficient processes, or more effective methods. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”
Innovation starts with us. What problem could you think differently about?
BJ Kraemer, President