Solving tricky Issues in seven Steps

I love tricky issues of my clients.

Solving them in seven Steps
Solving them in seven Steps

Actually, this is a wacky part of my personality and according to a test I had this ability already in grade 3. The school told my parents that I make mistakes when I have an easier task in math but when the task is difficult I solve it. I like challenges and I like to find solutions to situations that seem hard to sort out. That’s probably why I enjoy Global Mobility.

Often you need to look at an issue from various angles (technical, relational, cultural and legal) in order to find a good solution. Recently, I was asked to solve an issue, which was tricky for the person involved. So, I thought about this a bit more and came up with the seven-step process below.

The issue seems profane but I will use it here for illustration purposes. My client moved from the USA to Switzerland. He wanted to bring his car over. We knew that the car would need a few technical changes before it would pass the Swiss emissions and technical test that is a precedent to have the car registered. Without registration the car cannot be insured and without insurance the car could not be driven in Switzerland according to the relocation service. The part that did not seem to work out was the question how to get the car from the warehouse (where it would be unloaded) in Spreitenbach to the car dealer in Waedenswil who would take care of the technical changes. The available interim insurance would only cover damages to the car but was not going to cover any third-party liability damages. So if my client had an accident he would be in a very risky position. Also, the police in Switzerland is very strict so they would probably fine him if they saw him drive with US number plates.

The seven Step Approach to solving tricky Issues:

Step 1: Get the full picture and sketch it on a piece of paper

I thought we might have overlooked something critical in the process so I started to call all the involved parties again (relocation agent, insurance broker and garage owner).

Step 2: Add all the involved parties and how they relate to each other

I knew these people were not competition technically so that every one would provide one part of a service in a chain. I asked all of them for ideas to solve the issue and got a good hint from the insurance broker.

Step 3: Open up any closed communication channels between involved parties or play the communicator between all of them.

As three parties did not communicate with each other I had to ensure that they would all communicate with me now instead of my client. They all trust me so that was easy. I also asked the garage owner if he could give additional support and how much he would charge for picking the car up with an interim license plate.

...you don't really need cars in Switzerland.
…you don’t really need cars in Switzerland.

Step 4: Design a solution

After I had spoken to all of them I gave my client advice to change the process so that the garage owner could actually pick up the car for him in Spreitenbach. My client liked the idea. He will also save about 400 CHF for the company.

Step 5: Pilot it

In real life there are often little details we overlook so I am a big fan of piloting new processes and projects before implementing them. In this case I just have one chance to get it right but the risk is a lot lower now as the garage owner will use his own number plates and he will be able to speak to the police. What we learnt in the pilot is that there can be capacity issues and that planned processes need a bit of buffer time. (Here the container was delayed and as it was the middle of summer holidays we did not have the capacity to get everything done fast.)

Step 6: Develop a process

After the pilot we will use this method to solve similar issues. Once you apply the same method you basically have a process or methodology in place.

Step 7: Review and improve until it becomes a routine

Every year you should review all your processes. In the meantime there might be better technological developments or you can take out complicated steps in.

Which issue did you recently solve with the seven step plan? Tell us in the comments.



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