In a recent review of my book Teamwork 9.0 on Amazon, a business owner and team leader pointed out how the principles in the book are indispensable for teams in the new virtual world. Here is the full quote:
“Great insights into real life teamwork dynamics
There are lots of teamwork books out there, but few have the insights into human personality as solid as Teamwork 9.0. I loved learning about all the different personality types and how to relate to them in business and life. As a business owner and team leader figuring out this new virtual work world, Teamwork 9.0 is indispensable.”
As teams continue to be buffeted by the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, having problem-solving tools to help teams navigate the ever-changing landscape are indeed indispensable. I am delighted this reader uses the Teamwork 9.0 approach for their situation.
Beyond a Personality System
The Enneagram is more than a personality system. As I show in Teamwork 9.0, the reason why the Enneagram system uses numbers 1 through 9 for the nine types, is that the system also describes the order, steps 1 through 9, in which people solve problems. In other words, the Enneagram is also a problem-solving methodology!
Problem Solving Methodology
Having a systematic problem-solving approach to lead through tumultuous situations keeps teams focused on objectives and consistently moving towards resilient solutions. Teamwork 9.0 shows how the Enneagram system can be used as such a problem-solving tool. Here is a summary of the approach I describe in Chapter 2 of the book:
Step 1 – Define Problem/Goal – The starting point of problem solving is identifying that there is a problem—why something is wrong and why it needs to be corrected. Asking these questions of multiple people, you will discover various perspectives on the problem. Recording these descriptions of the problem and describing how things should be once the problem is solved informs the WHY of problem solving and establishes the problem-solving objectives. The WHY serves as the purpose of your problem-solving effort.
Step 2 – Identify Stakeholders – The problem necessarily impacts someone, especially problem solving in business. The second step is determining who. Who does the problem affect? Who can help solve the problem? Who may be affected by the solution? These people form the group of stakeholders who join you on your problem-solving journey.
Step 3 – Brainstorm Ideas – There are often numerous problem-solving approaches. You will generate ideas, and these ideas comprise what you will consider as possible solutions to the problem. Enlisting a diverse group of people to join you in idea brainstorming is how your problem-solving initiative can lead to new ideas. In this step, problem solving and creativity intersect.
Step 4 – Pick Positive Ideas – Every idea will generate an emotional response—your first reaction. This reaction happens immediately, without thinking. That idea is great! Or, that idea sucks! This is the step in which each idea is run through your emotional filter to eliminate bad ideas and retain good ones. If you wonder whether problem solving is a soft skill, step 4, which requires an examination of our emotional reactions, implies that the answer is yes!
Step 5 – Analyze Ideas – Any promising idea needs to be vetted, and this is the step where you analyze and determine how an idea will actually solve the problem. Run your ideas through the filter of logic, out of which emerges the most promising approaches—your Plan A and Plan B. Step 5 is the time in problem solving for analytical skills and critical thinking. While data analysis may have been required in step 1 to understand the problem, it may also be required in step 5 to assess the efficacy of the proposed solution.
Step 6 – Plan Path to Goal – This is the planning step in problem solving, when you sequence all the required actions into a plan. You take all the information collected in step 5 and synthesize that into an action plan that achieves your problem-solving objectives. In short, WHO does WHAT by HOW and WHEN to address WHY.
Step 7 – Get Buy-In – Once your plan is formulated you need to check in with all stakeholders to ensure everyone is on board. Depending on the scope of the problem, you will need everyone’s support, time—energy—resources, in many dimensions, physically—mentally—emotionally, to execute the plan and solve the problem. If you’ve kept everyone in the loop up to now, you will be in good shape to get the buy-in you need to proceed. Step 7 is the final decision-making point before moving into action.
Step 8 – Execute the Plan – Finally you get to action. This is the step in the problem-solving process where you actually solve the problem! Up to this point it has been all talk. Now you execute the plan and achieve the goal—problem solved!
Step 9 – Debrief and Harmonize Solution – After step 8 you may think you’re finished, but there’s one last step: the final check-in with all stakeholders to ensure that the problem was actually solved to everyone’s satisfaction. If you took the time in step 1 to document the goals and outcomes, those details will serve as your checklist. Sometimes the unexpected happens and new problems arise in step 9—that takes you back to step 1.
People Plus Process Provides Purpose
Having a problem-solving approach that takes into account the distinct gifts of each team member serves to keep your problem solvers engaged and performing at their best. The Enneagram as a personality system describes nine sets of gifts and as a problem-solving framework shows how to optimally apply those gifts to solve problems. A team acting with purpose is the perfect antidote to overcoming the trials and tribulations of the pandemic.
How is your team responding to the challenges of the pandemic? Which problem-solving approaches are you applying?