Agility in three - Part 3: Identifying and solving problems

03 August

Here is the third instalment in our series on the three-stage approach that organisations can take to transform their agility journey. Stage one is all about setting up for success and stage two explains how to keep moving and learning. This article focuses on the third stage, identifying and solving problems.

Having team alignment on success via goals and shared calendars allows teams to focus on shared outcomes. Having a process that everyone can follow, an understanding of acceptance criteria and working to build in and use feedback loops allows teams to move forward with purpose and power. The final step is to acknowledge and focus on problems.


Stage 3: Problem-solving 

Agility, lean and modern management practices do not solve your problems, they are not silver bullets and they do not make your problems go away. All they do is allow you to see your problems, face into them, look at them deeply and then work together as a team to solve them.

Modern working needs the courage and the discipline to be able to do this with a mature, value-focused mindset. The practices of iterating, acceptance criteria, prioritisation, feedback loops etc allow teams to focus on identifying problems and dealing with them, once and for all.

To build on the foundations of each stage teams need to adopt some key problem-solving approaches.



The practice of collaboration is very important when it comes to problem-solving. Being able to talk honestly and openly in a forum about challenges and issues that the teams are encountering is vital. Hiding information, not being transparent, or being afraid of talking about issues is a death-knell to an organisation. Visibility and transparent processes support quick and timely solutions. Building collaborative feedback loops into any lifecycle or process means that everyone in the team is mobilised around finding, understanding and solving problems.


Understand the true problem

To be able to effectively solve a problem, the team must know how to look past the apparent problem and delve into the “true” problem. They need to be able to look below the surface of a problem or issue when it appears, do root cause analysis, and impact analysis so that the problem is deeply understood, from all dimensions, and from all aspects of impact.

Once the “true” problem is understood the team can collaborate around how to solve the problem, and the best approach to take. This work then needs to be planned and incorporated into either ongoing working practices or the work to be delivered to create value for the organisation.


Proactive risk management

By clearly identifying problems teams can learn how to address risk. Looking at risk as a problem that has yet to occur, teams can adopt a proactive risk management approach, rather than a reactive approach. By spending the time throughout the workflow process to identify potential issues or problems, the team can also identify any mitigation or contingency actions they will proactively take to maximise value delivery.

These actions allow the group to not only face potential challenges but also actively work to reduce the likelihood or impact of these challenges. By making the risks real and obvious, the teams will maximise their chance to avoid them. Courage and maturity in organisations are vital for this work to succeed.


These three stages:

  1. Setting up for success
  2. Keep moving and learning
  3. Problem-solving

allow organisations to harness the modern approaches to working and maximise their ability to deliver value to their customers, make the workplace and amazing place to be, and grow and change with every fluid environment we now work in.


Posted by Sharon Robson.