Keep problem-solving meetings brief by enforcing strict time limits on discussions. Divide meetings into these three 20-minute segments:
- Define.When possible, specify the problem in advance. Then use the first 20 minutes of the meeting to identify potential root causes and to reach a consensus on which ones are the most prevalent.
- Brainstorm. Designate someone to collect or record the ideas, and then you can lead the team in grouping related approaches.
- Prioritize. Have the team prioritize potential solutions based on possible benefits and ease of implementation. Use an effort/benefit matrix that groups solutions into three categories: high-priority solutions (high benefit and low effort), further consideration needed (high benefit and high effort, as well as low benefit but low effort), and low-priority or rejected solutions (low benefit and high effort).
Note: The 60-minute format might not uncover every possible solution, but its efficiency compensates for that shortfall.
— Adapted from “60 Minutes to a Solution,” Matt Redmond, Quality Progress, http://www.asq.org.