In turbulent times it’s important to stay close to your clients, colleague’s, and bosses. A good way to provide practical support is to help them systematically think through and develop options.
Here is a simple and proven framework to have this conversation:
- What’s the issue? It describes what exactly the issue is, and also specifies what it isn’t. Example: We need to ensure that cash flow remains healthy.
- Why the issue is big? It answers the question why precious resources should be spent on the issue. Example: Cash flow is the backbone of any business.
- What’s the solution? This provides the details of what the proposed change would look like. Example: We can offer our clients a discount when they pay in advance.
- Why is the solution effective? Here, you show that the solution deals with the issue. Example: Payment in advance will ensure positive cashflow, even if the actual delivery of the product or service is postponed.
- Why is the solution feasible? This provides proof that the proposed solution can be executed. Example: We already use discounts for payment in advance with some of our existing vendors and it’s a win-win situation.
- Why are the advantages of the solution bigger than the disadvantages? Every course of action will create disadvantages. You must make sure that the downsides are small compared to the upsides. Example: Our total income will be slightly less because of discounts. Yet, it’s a small sacrifice to maintain business continuity.
Make sure you always cover all six questions. If a good answer to one of these questions is missing, insist on thinking it through before commitment to action.