Problem management helps companies think beyond immediate impact to manage risk and resolve vulnerabilities
By Christoph Goldenstern, Kepner-Tregoe
Was your company a victim of the recent ransomware / malware attack that crippled the computer systems of companies around the globe? Or does your company consider itself lucky to have been spared the costs and devastating impacts that have consumed global headlines and sent IT professionals and law enforcement into a frenzy? Regardless of how your company faired with this incident, business leaders across industries are taking this as a wake-up call that it’s time to get real about the risks that come with a digital enterprise and the prolific dependency on technology.
Ironically, most leaders are focusing their attention on “how did we handle the incident?” which is entirely the wrong question. The questions that IT and business leaders should be asking are: “How did we get into the situation (or not)?” and “What can we learn from the situation that can help us avoid it in the future?” These are the key questions of a discipline called “Problem Management” and if they haven’t been the focus of leadership and staff discussion, you may have a bigger problem on your hands than a malware attack.
Problem management is more than a process, it is a set of skills and it is an organizational culture focused on learning and continuous improvement. In the context of IT, problem management can help companies look beyond the immediate impact of incidents to identify and implement the preventative steps to manage risk and resolve vulnerabilities. Problem management and problem solving skills don’t just apply to IT, they have been used for decades to improve the quality of manufacturing, resolve customer issues, improve cost performance and even prepare for catastrophic disasters.
If recent events are leaving you a bit uneasy about your company’s readiness to deal with unknown events and business impacting situations, here are 3 things that you can do today to improve your problem management capabilities.
1. Improve the problem-solving skills of your employees – Problem solving is a core set of skills that are applicable across industries and job roles. Your best ideas and most valuable resources in a crisis are your people. An investment in skills training shows you value their contributions and establishes a consistent foundation for problem management processes and culture.
2. Start asking the right questions – Cultural change begins with focusing the discussions away from reactive behavior towards acknowledging risk and planning for uncertainty.
3. Review your problem management process – Problem solving is like riding a bike or driving a car with a lot of muscle memory and repetitive behaviors involved. Your problem management process establishes a repeatable standard of how problem solving should take place within your company, both ongoing and in response to an incident. If your employees know the process, they can focus more of their attention on identifying and solving problems (instead of the mechanics)
If you are still feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t be alarmed… help is available. For over 50 years, the problem-solving experts at Kepner-Tregoe have been helping companies and governmental organizations across a wide variety of industries improve their problem management capabilities. Whether it is Problem Solving skills training for your employees, help in installing industry leading problem solving processes or facilitating your team through the diagnosis and remediation of mission critical issues, Kepner-Tregoe is here to help.
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