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Troubleshooting is the seventh and last step in the decision making process. We are going to continue here first with some more excerpts from the book The Art of DECISION MAKING: 7 Steps to Achieving More Effective Results, by John D. Arnold...

  1. List possible problems
  2. Rank the likelihood of each occurring
  3. List preventive actions to take

This is your "reality test."

"The final Building Block - troubleshooting - is, in some ways, the MOST CRITICAL. It is also the least widely practiced. Its impact goes far beyond decision making. It teaches us to ask about any activity in which we are engaged, "What could go wrong?" It helps us take action to prevent, minimize, or overcome the possible adverse repercussions.

"Troubleshooting is simple to do, but it can be painful. Once we've made a decision, we tend to become emotionally committed to it. The more difficult the decision, the more personally committed we may be and the more threatened we are by arguments that might "shoot it down."

"Failure to troubleshoot can hurt in small ways. A student preparing a term paper at the last minute may discover that the library is closed or the resource material he needs is unavailable. His topic may be excellent and his outline superb, but his failure to ask what could go wrong may cost him a good grade in the course.

"Failure to troubleshoot can hurt in big ways too. One of my clients invested months of research and millions of advertising dollars in a new food product only to have it fail when the government banned an essential ingredient, saccharin" (96).

"There are THREE BASIC STEPS in troubleshooting.

  1. 1. "First, ask yourself, "What could go wrong with the solution I've chosen?" List all the possible problems you can foresee.

  2. 2. "Second, make a rough calculation of the LIKELIHOOD of each problem occurring and the IMPACT if it does occur (a scale of high, medium, and low is sufficient for most purposes).

  3. 3. "Third, take preventive action to cope with each potential problem" (97).

What could go wrong with report presentation?





Projector may not work; transparencies may not show up well

I may not project well; my presentation may bore them


I may not be able to answer all their questions

They may not be not be interested in our findings because of subsequent changes

They may be critical of our findings

They may be defensive and seek to justify their actions rather than absorb the information

They may be interrupted by phone calls or other business

One or more of the executives whose support is essential to success of the report may be unable to attend











































Arrange to have project checked out the day before & transparencies run on it

Use charts and lively examples to buttress points; be animated; ask them questions.

Review data; clip backup papers to my copy of the report

Concentrate on issues not affected by changes; make the report "action oriented"


Stress that findings represent views of interview respondents, not ours.

Stress that the purpose of the meeting is to present findings, not to argue their validity


Stress at outset the 10 am break; ask that they not permit other interruptions

Stress to key executives the importance of findings; ask them to let us know if they cannot be there so we can reschedule meeting

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