Async-first problem-solving template

What is the problem?

Often, the first person to describe an issue will dictate the problem to be solved because of how they view the situation. With our tendency to commit to action, we risk jumping straight into problem-solving mode without considering whether this is actually the right problem, and if it’s even worth addressing at all at in this moment.

Don’t leap without looking: It’s better to have consensus about the problem before discussing solutions so we’re all starting from the same understanding of what we’re trying to solve, rather than arguing about solutions to slightly different problems.

What are people’s positions?

It helps to understand how different stakeholders view the problem so that we can look at it from different angles. If differences of opinion are surfaced in this process, that allows us to establish common ground which can make a good starting point for future discussion.

Here’s some prompts to help you get started:

  • Do you agree or disagree with the problem statement?
  • What are your biggest concerns?
  • What does the ideal end-state look like to you?

Do not proceed below this point until the problem is understood and agreed upon by everyone.

What can we do to solve the issue?

Ideally, we can address the problem in such a way that we address the causes rather than the symptoms. Sometimes however, solutions to systemic problems are difficult to identify, prohibitively expensive, or they take too much time to implement. In such cases, temporary measures may be worth exploring as an intermediate solution.

Structural solutions

Temporary measures

Agreements & Action Items

Use this space to record any decisions or agreements which have been made, as well as to keep track of action items assigned to people for follow-up.