It works as follows:
G = GOAL
After the niceties have been completed, open the meeting:
- State the purpose of the meeting
- State your goals for the meeting
- Ask your colleagues what they would like to achieve in the meeting
- Summarise the complete list of goals for the meeting
- If appropriate agree on the priority order as you might not be able to address everything in this meeting.
R = REALITY
This part of the discussion is about exploring the background information so that you can understand the real issues. It is helpful to use rounds in this part of the discussion – that is, you go around the table; everyone must speak once before anyone may speak twice. This ensures that there are no interruptions.
You could use the following questions:
- What is happening that should not be happening?
- What is not happening that should be happening?
- What are the possible explanations for this?
Summarise the real issues before moving on.
O = OPTIONS
This is the part where you explore POSSIBLE solutions to the problem. Again, you can use rounds. Everyone MUST contribute something – they can’t say “I agree with Dave”.
DO NOT EVALUATE OR COMMENT ON THE OPTIONS! Simply acknowledge and record them and move on.
The objective is to develop a rich range of options. Silly options are stepping stones to great options.
W = WAY FORWARD
Once you have all the options on the table, ask each party to the collaboration to outline the following:
- What will you do and by when?
- What obstacles do you anticipate and how might you address them?
- What will you do if you need help?
- How will we know that it’s done/in place?
Finally, agree on when you will meet again to review progress.
It goes without saying that you will thank them for being so willing to collaborate and express your confidence that, together, you will have things on track in no time.
You will remember that the premise for my approach is as follows:
- Nobody gets up in the morning and says “What shall I do today to make everyone else’s life as difficult as possible?” We all want to do a good job and be well thought of.
- Every problem has a solution – even if the only solution is to think about the issue in a different way.
- If everything you’ve tried has failed, then you haven’t tried everything.
I hope this series of articles have given you something new you can try in your next problem-solving meeting.