Succeed With Moraware - The "4 Whats" of Problem Solving

We have a simple framework for solving problems at Moraware - it involves asking 4 questions:

  • What are you doing now?
  • What works about it?
  • What doesn't work?
  • What are the consequences of not changing?

For any kind of problem you're trying to solve (or at least any kind of problem that software can solve), if you ask these 4 questions, you'll ultimately uncover a high-level change plan. Let's dig into each question a little bit further ...

What are you doing now?

You can't make a change if you don't understand where you're coming from. How are you doing scheduling now? On a whiteboard? In Outlook or Google? In your head? A combination of these things? Something else? Even if it's ad hoc or always changing, you've got to be doing something.

What works about it?

Whatever you're doing now, you must be doing for a reason ... it must have something that inherently works about it. Maybe it's simply "I know how to do it." Maybe it's a good quality like "Everyone in the shop can see the schedule when it's on the whiteboard." If something is really broken, then it's hard to identify what works about it - that's when you know a change is urgent.

What doesn't work?

There also has to be a reason you want to make a change ... if you can't identify what's wrong with one of your processes, then maybe you shouldn't change it! Business is never easy - find something more important to work on if you can't identify what doesn't work about a process. For our customers, growth is often what causes something that used to work to stop working. For example, "if I'm the only one who can change the schedule, then I'm not doing other things." Or perhaps "It's great that everyone can see the schedule on the whiteboard, but it's really a hassle for me to get up from my desk to change it 20 times a day."

Identifying the pain of your situation is key to determining the solution. If a proposed solution doesn't eliminate the pain (or at least make it better), then you might as well keep the old solution until you find a better alternative.

What are the consequences of not changing?

Most people don't like change just for the sake of change ... there has to be a clear benefit to changing - and that's often best expressed by understanding the consequences of NOT changing.

As your business grows, sticking with your old processes will slow you down. For example, a whiteboard and file folders might have worked just fine when you were doing 10 counter tops per week, but now that you're doing 20, you start finding that activities are falling through the cracks. If you don't change your scheduling process in that situation, you'll probably lose customers and damage your reputation.

Depending on the problem you're trying to solve the consequences of not changing might not be enormous. That's a sign that you might have higher priorities to address elsewhere - or simply that your business is running smoothly (Congratulations!) ...

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The "4 whats" are an incredibly useful tool for thinking about the problems you're experiencing in your business and how to use software to solve them. We use this technique every day at Moraware when we talk to potential customers and existing customers. We hope that you find it useful in your conversations with us and as a simple way for thinking about improving your business.

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