It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin
Other Business Services – Overview
As Solutionists, most of our time is spent designing and facilitating problem solving and conflict resolution processes for a wide range of strategic and human issues in businesses, professional practices and other organisations.
People come to us for help with issues or challenges in their business or practice. These are mainly “human issues”, rather than technical challenges, and there’s usually more than a little personal confusion, discord or conflict bubbling away behind the presenting business problems.
Almost invariably we find that two or more people, or businesses, have got themselves “out of alignment” – they don’t feel they’re on the same page – they no longer share: expectations, aspirations, commitments or whatever, and ultimately lose faith that things will come good. This is doubly painful when the individuals concerned had a good and positive relationship in earlier times.
If this is happening in the leadership team it’s almost certainly filtering down the line to staff, who may form cliques, or leave, or just go into some sort of stasis while waiting for things to get sorted out.
However you look at it, it’s not good for the individuals concerned, or for the business as a whole.
After seeing this over and over again, especially in partnerships and professional practices, we set about developing a suite of non-destructive responses – to help get everyone back on track and “re-aligned”. Solutionism was born through this process, over 20 years ago.
The 7 Elements of Business Success
Admirable businesses and organisations all have something in common: they’ve built something valuable, comprehensible and sustainable for intended purpose and lifespan.
Conceptually, they’ve created: Clarity, Certainty and Commitment.
Practically, they’ve implemented: Strategies, Structures and Systems; and ensured that the right people are in the right places, with the right attitudes and the necessary Skills, to make it all work.
We call these The 7 Elements of Business Success, and all long term successful businesses have worked hard to put them in place.
Of course, none of this is worth much if it’s all rhetoric. So underpinning everything your business needs a Culture that encourages “things to done around here” as the leaders’ Values and Visions indicate they should be done.
We visualise the 7 Elements as a strong, safe, functional and open structure:
The 7 Elements framework helps us to perform a detailed analysis of your current status, define your future goals, and identify the blockers keeping you from achieving those goals.
From there we can develop a practical plan to address your real needs before we start working on specific tasks.
Facilitation & Problem Solving
Facilitation means “to make something easier”.
Increasing numbers of individuals, businesses and organisations have discovered that bringing in expert facilitators really helps them to solve issues, problems and challenges that are either resistant to internal resolution, or that benefit from the structure and lateral thinking that an independent process expert brings into the equation.
Our facilitation tools and techniques have been developed and refined over many years of working in the real world helping businesses and organisations to obtain:
- Clarity about their purpose and goals.
- Certainty over what needs to be done to achieve those goals and,
- Commitment to work as a team to achieve those goals (what, who, how, when and how much?)
Our Solutionist problem solving approach is fundamentally facilitative, collaborative, constructive and creative. We offer it in 3 main service areas:
Facilitation or Negotiation?
Facilitators are independent process managers.
Negotiators help specific parties to achieve desired outcomes.
Facilitation is a form of managed communication process. A good facilitator commits to running a good process, rather than committing to follow the dictates of any individual.
A facilitator: “manages communications and aids understanding to help make any human task or challenge easier to perform”.
Skilled facilitators help to make meetings more productive by providing process structure and ground rules, and by enabling every participant to focus on issues, content and dynamics, rather than needing to worry about meeting mechanics.
- Structure and manage all types of meeting, for two or more people.
- Establish and enforce appropriate ground rules for: meeting preparation (agendas and information requirements); communication; behaviour and decision making.
- Record outcomes and commitments (notes of meetings and minutes).
- Maintain focus and momentum and guide participants through the agenda through a mix of process tools and techniques, open questions and reality checks.
- Manage time keeping.
- Resolve tensions and conflicts, or adjourn the meeting to get potentially destructive issues resolved before trying to continue.
- Act as independent process managers – everybody’s friend and nobody’s advocate – unless instructed otherwise.
- Board meetings (allows all key personnel to participate equally and freely).
- Performance appraisals and other executive discussions (especially amongst partners and business leaders).
- Strategic and operational planning and review meetings.
- Culture development.
- Trust and team building.
- Policy development.
- Strategic issues and investment decisions.
- Group problem solving (large and small groups).
- Succession planning and transition programs.
Negotiation is the process of getting what you want from others. As such, it’s an entirely partisan process of self-fulfilment, although genuine (or generous) negotiations are designed to satisfy everybody’s needs and interests, to the best of everyone’s ability, under the circumstances.
Negotiation is a process of: identification, exploration, discussion and option generation – all designed to lead to an offer and its acceptance.
Where there’s no genuine desire to produce mutually satisfactory outcomes, the process looks more like: “bargaining”, “compromise”, “domination”, “oppression”, or “surrender”.
Our negotiators are usually engaged as partisans – to help individuals, groups, businesses, or organisations prepare to get the best possible outcome from any upcoming negotiation. We can also train, coach and mentor your people through the negotiation process, or be an active part of your team throughout the negotiation.
If you need an impartial process manager, you’d better engage us as facilitators, or as “negotiation managers” (which is the same thing).
- Take a measured and structured approach towards all negotiations.
- Establish and maintain momentum and focus on desired outcomes.
- Work within pre-set parameters.
- Create “yessable” propositions and resolve/remove blockers to agreement.
- Act as representatives of their instructing principals.
- Attempt to influence opposing parties: “to get them to want to do what they want them to do”. (This is pure Dale Carnegie!).
- Business and workplace issues.
- Contract negotiations.
- Major purchases and sales.
- Mergers, acquisitions and divestments.
- Performance and remuneration discussions.
- Succession, transition and change management.
- Proposals for new work.
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail” – Abraham Maslow.
At one level or another we spend most of our lives solving problems and, despite the odd drama, most of us get by most of the time. But outside our comfort zones, things can get pretty tense, especially when we lack the tools, skills, confidence or perspective to get us safely home.
A lawyer sees your problems from a legal perspective. An accountant sees the numbers and tax consequences, and sometimes little else. Professional blinkers can obscure the real problem, to your detriment, because it’s just the (professionally recognised) symptoms, not the real commercial / practical / human causes, that are perceived and addressed.
Solutionist problem solving drives everything we do. It encourages everyone to take a holistic approach to solving the whole problem, and doing whatever it takes to produce optimal, agreeable, lasting outcomes.
CONSEPS™ is the problem solving process we developed and use to engage parties and raise confidence that sensible outcomes will be achieved. It usually produces much better and longer lasting results, for everyone, than less structured processes.
Any significant issue or problem that two or more people or businesses are having trouble resolving, including everything listed under Facilitation andNegotiation above.