Solving complex problems and selling their solutions is critical for personal and organizational success. For most of us, however, it doesn't come naturally and we haven't been taught how to do it well. Research shows a host of pitfalls trips us up when we try: We're quick to believe we understand a situation and jump to a flawed solution. We seek to confirm our hypotheses and ignore conflicting evidence. We view challenges incompletely through the frameworks we know instead of with a fresh pair of eyes. And when we communicate our recommendations, we forget our reasoning isn't obvious to our audience.
How can we do it better?
In Cracked It!, seasoned strategy professors and consultants Bernard Garrette, Corey Phelps and Olivier Sibony present a rigorous and practical four-step approach to overcome these pitfalls. Building on tried-and-tested (but rarely revealed) methods of top strategy consultants, research in cognitive psychology, and the latest advances in design thinking, they provide a step-by-step process and toolkit that will help readers tackle any challenging business problem. Using compelling stories and detailed case examples, the authors guide readers through each step in the process: from how to state, structure and then solve problems to how to sell the solutions.
Written in an engaging style by a trio of experts with decades of experience researching, teaching and consulting on complex business problems, this book will be an indispensable manual for anyone interested in creating value by helping their organizations crack the problems that matter most.
Bernard Garrette is Professor of Strategy at HEC Paris. His teaching and research focus on corporate strategy, business simulations and problem solving. He served as MBA Associate Dean at HEC Paris, Corporate Strategy Expert with McKinsey & Company, and consultant or management educator for blue chip companies and start-ups. Corey Phelps is Associate Professor of Strategy, Marcel Desautels Faculty Fellow and Associate Dean of Executive Education at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University. He is a frequent keynote speaker, corporate trainer and consultant on topics of strategy and innovation. Olivier Sibony is Affiliate Professor of Strategy at HEC Paris, where he teaches problem solving and strategic decision making. Previously, he was a Senior Partner of McKinsey & Company, where he spent 25 years advising the leaders of global corporations, and held a number of firm leadership roles.
Chapter 1. The most important skill you never learned * Fast and slow problem solving * Problem solving and the expertise trap * Complex problems and "unknown unknowns" * The need for a disciplined problem solving process * Chapter 1 in one page Chapter 2. The five pitfalls of problem solving * Case 1: When the music industry went out of tune * Pitfall 1: Flawed problem definition * Case 2: The Grameen-Danone strengthening yogurt * Pitfall 2: Solution confirmation * Case 3: The call center story * Pitfall 3: Wrong framework * Case 4: New strategy at J.C. Penney * Pitfall 4: Narrow framing * Case 5: A fat chance for sugar * Pitfall 5: Miscommunication * Chapter 2 in one page Chapter 3. The 4S method * Where does the 4S method come from? * An overview of the 4S method * State: A problem well posed is half-solved * Structure: The architecture of problem solving * Solve: Between analysis and creativity * Sell: Choose the approach that suits your audience * Chapter 3 in one page Chapter 4. State the problem: the TOSCA framework * Trouble: What makes this problem real and present? * Owner: Whose problem is this? * Success criteria: What will success look like, and when? * Constraints: what limitations and trade-offs constrain the problem-solving process and the solution? * Actors: who has a say in the way we solve this problem, and what do they want? * Write the core question * Singing TOSCA as a choir * Chapter 4 in one page Chapter 5. Structure the problem: pyramids and trees * Hypothesis-driven problem structuring * Building a hypothesis pyramid * Hypothesis-driven problem structuring: pros and cons * Issue-driven problem structuring * Growing issue trees * Growing a tree or building a pyramid? * Chapter 5 in one page Chapter 6. Structure the problem: analytical frameworks * The power of frameworks: MECE breakdowns of generic problems * The danger of frameworks: Frameworks as mental models * Industry frameworks: value drivers * Functional frameworks * When all else fails, try good old logic * Chapter 6 in one page Chapter 7. Solve the problem: eight degrees of analysis * From structuring to analyses * Eight degrees of analysis * Planning the work * Conducting the analysis * Chapter 7 in one page Chapter 8. Redefine the problem: the design thinking path * Design thinking, and when to use it * Five phases, one mindset * Phase 1: Empathize * Phase 2: Define * Chapter 8 in one page Chapter 9. Structure and solve the problem using design thinking * Phase 3: Ideate * Phase 4: Prototype * Phase 5: Test * Chapter 9 in one page Chapter 10. Sell the solution: core message and storyline * Don't tell the story of the search, tell the story of the solution * The pyramid principle * Pave the way for a dialogue * Design your "storyline" * Go for either a grouping or an argument * Chapter 10 in one page Chapter 11. Sell the solution: recommendation report and delivery * Manage communications throughout the problem-solving process * Beware the PowerPoint curse * Create an effective, modular report * Develop the content pages * Make quantitative charts relevant and simple * Use conceptual charts sparingly * Trim the deck ruthlessly * Quality control * Beyond slide presentations * Chapter 11 in one page Chapter 12. The 4S method in action * Case study: The Kangaroo opportunity * What is the problem? * Structuring the problem * Solving the problem * Selling the solution * Appendix: First section of a report on the Kangaroo case study Chapter 13. Conclusion: Becoming a problem-solving master