Interest Based Problem Solving is one of the key tools used in a High Performance through Engagement Strategy. It enables the people closest to the customer or processes to clarify the problems, analyse the problem, develop multiple options and craft innovative solutions.
The use of Interest Based Problem Solving (IBPS) as a means to engage employees (and their representatives) in solving business problems is gaining momentum world wide.
At its heart IBPS is a form of systems thinking that provides a structure to a problem solving or negotiating session where instead of “you against me because of the problem” it becomes “you and me against the problem”.
If those phrases sound familiar to you it was originally coined by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt the founder of the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes and a thinking tool called a Conflict Cloud. The Conflict Cloud and IBPS used together are capable of delivering incredibly powerful, innovative and fast solutions. Combined with another of Goldratt's thinking tools - the Ambitious Goal Tool (also known as a Pre-requisite Tree) and implementation of the solutions can be equally innovative and fast.
Interests and Positions - A Tale of Two Chefs
Once upon a time there was only one orange left in the kitchen and two prominent chefs were fighting over it as they prepared dinner for the dignitaries waiting upstairs.
“I need that orange!”
“Yes, but I need that orange as well!”
Time was running out and they both needed an orange to finish their recipes for the President’s dinner. They decided on a compromise and grabbed a large kitchen knife to split the orange in half, and each went to their corner to finish the meal.
One chef squeezed juice from their half of the orange into the special sauce he was making. It wasn’t quite enough, but it would have to do. The other chef grated the peel of their half into the dough of their famous cake. He too didn’t have as much as ideal, but given the situation, what else could they have done?
The better solution may seem obvious to us now: both chefs would have been better off if they had peeled the orange and had simply taken the part they needed. Instead, the chefs had focused on each other’s position (what they needed) and not on each other’s interest (why they needed it).
The ability to communicate all stakeholder interests (the why) is at the heart of innovative problem-solving in a High Performance Organisation.