Proactive Problem Solving: The Art of Finding Problems When there are None








There are problems of poverty.

There are problems of ill health.

There are problems of crime and corruption.

There are problems of environmental pollution.

There are problems of inefficient business processes.

There are innumerable problems. It is possible to address each problem and find a solution.

But there are many who feel problem solving takes too long. Particularly, remedying the root causes.

So we indulge in quick-fix problem solving. Band-aid problem solving.

With this negative attitude, problems surface again and again.

A negative attitude is useful for pointing out the problems, but inadequate for solving them.

If the attitude is right and constructive habits are in place, then problem solving is much easier. It can trigger a positive revolution.








I can think of no better example than Akshaya Patra for a positive revolution in India.

Akshaya Patra Foundation proactively embraced the elephant size problem of classroom hunger and malnutrition in India, in 2000. The symptoms of the problem needed no data gathering. The benefits from solving this problem were obvious:

· Improved ability to focus and learn in class

· Improved school attendance

· Improved socialization among castes

· Vocational opportunity for women.

We all know that problems scheduled for solution need to be specific, observable and measurable. They also need to be of a size that is manageable. So the focus for the first project was Bangalore, H K Hill.

The first step in problem solving is to understand stakeholders needs. In this case it was: South Indian cuisine; balanced meals; interesting meals. Akshaya Patra designed the menus for non-repetitive, nutritious and interesting meals.

But how do you service 100,000 children daily? How do you ensure hygienic practices in the kitchen processes? How do you ensure quality inputs and no avoidable waste? How do you ensure on-time delivery of perfect hot meals? How do you build a quality culture in the organization? Etc, etc, etc.






The answer lay in adoption of world-class kitchen technology and world-class quality practices. There was simply no room for error. The solution to the challenge had to follow the mantra: better, faster, cheaper, and different.

The Bangalore kitchen proved a successful pilot. Today Akshaya Patra has over 20 kitchens. Their reach varies from 10,000 to 100,000 students, at each kitchen.






In conclusion, if you are sitting on a pin, you can remove the pin. All is well.

However, most problems are much more complex. It is not a matter of removing the pin.

Most problems require a constructive and creative approach. An approach that exploits the left- and right-brain.

That is what the positive revolution is about. It’s about Proactive Problem Solving.

There are 4 Steps to Problem Solving:

· Problem Definition

· Problem Diagnosis

· Problem Remedy

· Locking the Improvement

These 4 Steps can solve problems of poverty, ill health, crime and corruption, environmental pollution, and inefficient business processes.



*The MADE IN INDIA tiger is a creative representation of the idea behind becoming a manufacturing behemoth in the global markets. Any resemblance to any other logo, is purely unintentional.


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About Suresh Lulla

Suresh Lulla established Qimpro Consultants Pvt. Ltd. in 1987 as a focused quality management consultancy based on The Juran Trilogy: quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. Since inception, Qimpro has saved Indian corporates over Rs 20,000 crores in terms of cost of poor quality, using the Juran methodologies. In 1989, Mr Lulla established Qimpro Convention as a culmination of a quality improvement competition for the QualTech Prize. Currently, there are three parallel competitions - improvement, innovation, and sustainability in the manufacturing, services, and healthcare sectors. Areas of Specialization • Problem Solving • Process Excellence • Performance Excellence • Benchmarking Best Practices Author Mr Lulla has authored 'World-Class Quality: An Executive Handbook' published by Tata McGraw- Hill (2003). Quality Fables In 2014, Mr Lulla released Quality Fables. Unlike Aesop's Fables, these 25 fables are not based on fiction and/or animals. They are based on real experiences and involve real people. Each is a short narrative making a significant point. Recognition In 2004, Mr Lulla was awarded the IMC Juran Centennial Medal for his pioneering contribution to quality practices in India. In 2005, Mr Lulla was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in recognition of his outstanding achievements in Quality Management Consultancy. In 2006, the Institute of Management Consultants of India conferred on Mr Lulla the award of Fellow Member. Professional Bodies • Chairman, IMC Quality Awards Committee - IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award; IMC Juran Medal • Director - Membership Retention and Engagement, Global Benchmarking Network
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One Response to Proactive Problem Solving: The Art of Finding Problems When there are None

  1. Great Work Suresh. Inspiring writing. Very timely and topical.
    Hope to hear more from you

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