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Solving a problem through understanding of context

Written by on 14 February 2011

Many problems can be complex and interwoven amongst a number of other problems and variables. This can make a definitive conclusion or solution to a problem a little more difficult to manage. As previously mentioned on this blog, the successful resolution of a problem is often not achieved at the planning stage but through flexible and adaptive implementation.

The importance of analysis and planning

You may be forgiven for thinking that not a great deal of emphasis is placed on analysis and planning as is given to problem resolution within the military, yet this is not the case. The military conduct detailed analysis and this process can also be combined with a planning approach where analysis of both provides useful output from which deductions and framework plans can be produced concurrently. Utilising a formal analysis and planning process provides a robustness and transparency that is invaluable to others within the organisation. Understanding the process will enable others to conduct concurrent tasks knowing that the process will produce a defined and clear output.

Flexible implementation

The production of a robust plan will provide a useful framework from which adaptive implementation can take place. As events change the operational context, the emerging context can be addressed at a localised level without the timely process of referring back to senior commanders in order to receive new direction. Central to flexible implementation is a methodology known as Mission Command. It is both a command philosophy and implementation management process and is utilised across all units deployed on operations within the British military.

Looking wider than the immediate problem

In order to produce robust plans, the wider context must be considered within the analysis process. The wider context has become more involved within the globalised economy and within the current deployed operations that military forces have been engaged within the past 12 years. The British military have employed a system know as the comprehensive approach. This system was developed during the Balkans campaign and reflected the complexities of internal cultural conflict whilst managing the process of nation state building. The comprehensive approach captures the different tenant that constitutes the key components of a stable society such as the rule of law, education, commercial, humanitarian and health, information, military, economic, diplomacy administration and governance. The aim of the comprehensive approach is to benchmark the problem and the plan against the wider context and attempts to understand the unforeseen consequences of a particular action. This process has been extremely useful when dealing with the complexities of a multi-dimensional society striving to achieve stability.


Business and the comprehensive approach

Many of the same considerations should be applied to businesses when they are developing strategy, not only in analytical terms such as how the legal framework of a particular jurisdiction effects the plan, but also how they will plan the legal framework of an environment. This dynamic evaluation will enable the development of more robust implementation plans, building in scenarios that would have been considered and weighed before a final course of action has been chosen.

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