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  1. 2007.01.31 Mckinsey's 7 steps to slove problem 2

Mckinsey's 7 steps to slove problem

컨설팅이야기 2007. 1. 31. 20:23 Posted by 5throck
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McKinseys 7 steps to

solve problem:

How to accept the methodology in real world?


   OOPS!!!! Where are we? What are real problems?

We meet some type of problems everyday. Some of them are tiny and minor problems, for example, line-top in factory because one part of a machine is out of work which is associated with operational problem rather than strategic problem. Thus, sometimes we could not feel that in the air because it is everyday problem which we experience and can not consider that as serious problem. However, that is not always true because some of them are too big to solve with our resources and we ignore that problem even though we know that is not minor problem.

But, at the time also we might need to check whether the problem is really big or not and think we can not solve the problem because we don’t know how to solve the problem. In several cases, we might resolve the problem if we know how to solve the problems. In that case, some of us might feel that we are cast to the very small island and live alone due to our limitation.

Now if you are in this situation, how can you solve the problem? Fortunately, you have already experienced it and have a solution; to solve the problem is not quite serious for you. But, not always you are a lucky guy at the every situation. Moreover, if you are an executive or a manager to run a company and you should manage some of problems properly. Otherwise, you might be fired or go bankrupt the company depending on the result how to solve the problem.

By that time, what is a good approach to solve the problem whether it is big or not? Here McKinsey’s problem solving method is one of good approaches which we can consider if we face the problems.

 McKinsey’s 7 steps to problem solving

During the session in leadership seminar, because the methodology could not be all and fully covered by the guest speaker; I might have a chance to think about the rest of the methodology and try to draw my version of the methodology with internal intention, Thus it might be slightly different from the real methodology, but whole concept is very similar to the original concept. In addition, I do believe that problem solving methodology is very useful tool and have an opinion that the skill should be one of skill requirements if someone wants to be a global leader.

McKinsey’s problem solving methodology consists of 7 steps. The first step is problem definition which is key step to solve problem. Problem should be defined and described. Documentation really helps people think what the real problem is as well as give more clear definition. Moreover, it helps to get consensus among people who say the problems in terms of different perspectives

The second step is to make logic tree using MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Cumulatively Exhausted). The step make the problem more structured and give a chance to think more systematically about the problem because it divide big problem into several small problems and try to conquer the problem issue by issue without losing whole problem concept. After that, the issues should be prioritized depending urgency and importance. Also, some issues are dropped because those issues are not key sources to make the problem.

The forth step is issue analysis associated with scheduling, organizing and setting up hypothesizes. In this step, the many hypothesizes about the problem are created and the jobs are assigned each project team members with time limitation. The next step is verification about each hypothesis. With verification to hypothesizes, they can see which hypothesis is true or not. If one hypothesis is failed, another hypothesis should be set up and check that again until they find some key understanding about the problem. It is very time-consuming jobs and takes longer period comparing with other steps, thus time management is very important.

In the sixth step, conclusion is drawn using verified facts which are already proven in fifth step. Using logic tree, the conclusion presents “so what” rather than “why so.” It means the conclusion is more meaningful and useful answer about the problem than simply presenting facts and truths. Finally, the report is made and presented properly. The step is very important because even though they do very well at solving problem, if they fail to present their works effectively, whole work might be under-valued or in some case considered seriously or ignored.


Think about the Methodology

The methodology seems to be fine and very useful. Why can many people fail to solve their problems? – Because they don’t know how to use the methodology? Well, it might be true some cases, however, I don’t believe that most of people failed to solve the problem not just due to unknown to the solution. Thus, what is problem? It is a time to let us think about this issue and we might need to look at what has happened in real world.

  When people, especially in companies, try to solve problem, they want to solve problems very quickly without spending a lot of time and money. In addition, many people don’t want to be involved with problem solving project team because they are very conscious about the project failure or because they don’t want to deal with some of political issues, for example, restructuring company. Thus, the company wants or tries to hire some so-called specialists or experts from consulting firms. In that case, the role of problem solving is going to other guys who don’t know precisely and deeply about the problem. In addition, the project team might face strong resistance from most of people in the company because people don’t like them at all.

Other reason is that top managers don’t like the answer about the problem because it requires a lot of resources; because it is not like to their management style and etc. In this case, they want to twist the answer with their own purpose. You might think about the result without my explanation. Other problem is responsibility; consultants from outsource or project team members are usually likely to say that the company did not follow their recommendation and rules properly if the result is not good.

I think there is not the simple answer about this situation, but I can say that the gap between real and ideal world is not caused by the problem itself. Plus, the methodology regards problem as static source and cause to occur some issues to companies. However, problem would be like a kid who is always chatting and running rather than not shy and slow like a sloth. Under not rapidly changed business environment, the methodology should be a good way to solve problems, but the time was changed.

Where and how to use the tool

I heard the world is changed from many media sources many times. Thus, I am very suspicious that the problem solving methodology is still useful under these environments because as if I mentioned in previous section, it seemed to be a little bit too old and worn-out. Thus, for a wile, I have to think a lot and differently whether I can still use the tool or not. Finally, I think to find some sort of points about the tool and could improve it efficiently and effectively.

In my conclusion, the tool is still useful under some sort of conditions.


Ø        The problem solving methodology should be not too related with operational issues. According to TOC (Theory of Constraints), even though I make some issues clear in order to improve certain points on operational processes, it might cause other issues because of clearing the problems itself. It means the problem is moving target and it is very difficult to grasp.


Ø        The time to solve the problems should be short. If it takes so long time to solve it, especially under rapidly changing business environment, when the solution comes out, the solution is too old or late to solve current problem which is different from the original problem which was considered at the beginning point.


Ø        The size of company should be reasonable. The small and medium companies could not have enough resources to follow the procedures in many cases. Especially they don’t have enough human resources. In this case, strictly forcing to follow the procedures is very dangerous. People who are involved with task force team, for instance, could not endure due to burdens witch requite them project work and normal simultaneously. It makes people to leave their companies rather than to do efforts in order to find and clear problems.

Methodology always does not give an answer

Everything was born, grow, and finally gone like, for instance, human’s life. In case of human, while the person is alive, he/she learned knowledge and modify his/her behaviors and attitudes through making many trials and errors or though communicating with other people. So, I think the tools grow and are improved to go though similar processes like human being.

Moreover, like everything finally ends in some day, the life of the tool will end in some day. Thus, in my opinion, we should check whether the tools can still be valid and help the problem solved efficiently and effectively before we are trying to use it. Also I think we should consider about what are benefits and costs via using the tool under certain situation.

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