When solving business problems, it is advantageous to get varying expert opinions. Internal viewpoints are always helpful because they come from those who know the business best. However, sometimes it is better to conduct a solutioning session with an outside team to get the valuable, outside-in perspective that only a third party can provide.
What is solutioning?
Very simply it is solving a problem; however, in this context, it refers to the exercise of “solving” itself. Problem-solving is fundamental to consulting. Consultants solve their clients’ problems, and, in the process, they teach clients things they do not already know about their business, their customers and the market. But they also educate themselves and learn new ways to solve their clients’ problems. Looking inward may even be more important.
There is more than one way to solve a problem. Solutioning is a collaborative exercise involving cross-functional external resources with business acumen and technical expertise as well as internal counterparts – business and operational leaders, analytics and technology leaders, functional resources, project managers, and a key facilitator. Because this exercise is both tactical and strategic, it is critical to involve strategy decision-makers on both sides.
When does solutioning happen?
Solutioning can happen at any point in a consulting engagement. Sometimes the team needs to be agile and do a bit of it during implementation and execution/delivery. And, always looking inward, it can happen during a “lessons learned” exercise (this is where strategic thinking comes in). There is no wrong way to do it. (Okay, there is, but) fostering cross-functional collaboration, creative thinking, structured and unstructured exercises – not being afraid of learning new things and change, letting go of ego, and hearing everyone’s voice – are all good ways to start.
Often the solutioning process focuses first on the verticals and then expands across the horizontals. The process should start with deep industry knowledge and collaborative partnership to understand the objectives, evaluate opportunities, and identify obstacles. The process should then continue with a breadth of capabilities coming together to develop solutions to these obstacles. An example would be leveraging a cross-functional four-part framework around using data to uncover actionable insights that drive meaningful and measurable value to the business. The process concludes with demonstrating a return on investment – then scale, rinse, and repeat.
The Northridge Group is a growing management consulting firm that is committed to delivering value to our clients and a better experience for their customers. We specialize in Customer Experience and Operational Excellence initiatives, utilizing advanced data analytics and business process redesign to deliver measurable outcomes for our Fortune 200 and Government clients. To learn how we can provide the outside-in perspective you need to solve your business problems, contact us.