Often a major challenge in determining if and how to make changes or improvements is to conduct an effective fact-finding mission. In some cases, this could take weeks or even months of painstaking research. Especially under today’s market pressure, organizations often don’t take the time they should to get accurate, reliable information. People often cloud facts with opinions or feelings, which makes it more likely they focus on people issues instead of process issues. Here are some steps from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training that you can take to ensure successful fact-finding:
Get all the facts — To get all the facts, you need to directly observe. You need to go to an actual place, meet with the actual people, and watch the actual processes. Differentiate facts from opinions. Acknowledge people’s opinions, frustrations, and feelings, and then ask how they can substantiate their positions. Review other sources of information like reports, test results, productivity data, etc.
Analyze the facts — Check for accuracy. Does information from different sources seem to be contradictory? Determine if there is information you still need. It’s easier to see mistakes in something present than to identify information that is missing. Try to identify root causes of problems. Review all the facts with key people inside and outside of the system. Based on the analysis, create a problem statement that clearly identifies the improvement to be made.
Come to a decision — Identify the key people who will need to be responsible, informed, consulted, or otherwise engaged in making changes. These people should probably be involved in gathering and analyzing facts as well. Get a consensus on specific decisions and action steps. Consult your team on assigning responsibilities and get your team to agree on when the steps will be completed.
Once a decision is reached, put it into action. It’s all too common to become overwhelmed by the next crisis or assignment and quickly lose focus on implementing new ideas. Don’t lose the momentum. If people have invested time and energy in this initiative, reward them by making it happen quickly.
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