The Power of Considering All Factors: A 5C Framework for Effective Problem-Solving

In the face of challenges, it is natural for us to seek quick solutions. However, rushing into problem-solving without a thorough examination can lead to ineffective outcomes. We must take the time to examine challenges correctly before we set out to seek solutions. A quick and easy way to do this is use the 5C framework.

Debra Langley
A 5C Framework for Effective Problem-Solving

At primary school both my daughters were competitive swimmers, I’d have to drop them off at school at 6:00 AM in the mornings for an early morning swim. Without the sun’s rays to warm the water it was always an icy cold challenge each morning.

Chatting to some of the other moms at a gala one afternoon, we decided that a heated pool was exactly what our girls needed, so we formed a small committee and started doing some research to heat the pool. It would cost R 475,000, that was many years ago and I’m sure would probably be almost double that today. With all the paperwork and numbers in hand, as the newly appointed vice committee chair, I joined the convenor in a scheduled visit with the headmistress.

We highlighted all the benefits of a heated pool and spread out the paperwork carefully across her desk for her to have a look at. “I’m not sure if the school has surplus funds like this to spend on pool heaters,” I said, “Can you approve a fundraising committee to raise the money?”

We sat by anticipating a positive response and waiting to hear just how excited she was to have a group of parents drive this initiative, “I’m sorry to disappoint you,” she said, “Unfortunately that won’t be possible.” “Why not?” I asked. “Our parents already pay extremely high school fees and we don’t want to burden them any further by expecting them to help and support an endless flurry of fundraising events to raise money for pool heaters.” An endless flurry… she had said. “What if we only arranged one single event, would you be happy with that?”

“Yes, I think that would be fine.” Fantastic, we had the go ahead to host one single fundraising event.

“We are wasting our time!” one of the moms said. “How will we ever raise R 475,000 from one single event?” “That’s the challenge,” I said. “Now let’s put our heads together and find out exactly how we are going to do that.”

So, there we sat sipping coffee and tea and randomly blurting out all the fundraising ideas we could think of, none of which would bring in R 475,000 in one go. Suddenly one of the moms piped up and said, “This is impossible, we would have to break the Guinness World Record to make this happen.” A Guinness World Record why not? That was exactly what we needed.

We now focused our attention to find out what Guinness World Records existed, and exactly which ones would be in within our reach to beat. The one we decided on was to break the greatest number of swimmers to swim in a 24-hour relay event, a fitting record to support our fundraising initiative. We picked a date had it approved by the school and started planning exactly what we needed to do, and how we were going to do this.

Breaking a Guinness World Record is no easy feat, everything must be recorded, and there needs to be a certain number of Guinness World Record officials present to oversee the event. We had carefully worked through all the red tape to make sure we hadn’t left out any important details and then on the 23rd/24th of January 2009, St. Mary’s DSG Pretoria, sponsored by Pure Health broke the Guinness World Record, with an incredible number of 3941 people swimming 25m in 24 hours.

We had not only broken the Guinness World Record, but we had also raised the target amount of R 475,000 in one day.

Edward de Bono, in his book “Teach Your Child How to Think,” presents two compelling illustrations that highlight the potential pitfalls of neglecting to consider all factors. These examples serve as valuable reminders of the importance of comprehensive thinking in problem-solving.

A man visits a used-car lot and spots his favourite sports car. It’s in perfect condition, the mileage is right, he loves the colour, and it is priced right in his budget. Delighted he returns a short while later and buys the car, only to discover when he gets home that the car is too long to fit in his garage.

A dwarf gets into an elevator and needs to visit the 20th floor, he exits on the 10th floor discovering that he can only reach as high as the tenth-floor button. Had he considered all things before stepping into the lift he could’ve waited for someone else to arrive and climbed into the elevator with them.

In the face of challenges, it is natural for us to seek quick solutions. However, rushing into problem-solving without a thorough examination can lead to ineffective outcomes. We must take the time to examine challenges correctly before we set out to seek solutions. By understanding the root causes, complexities, limitations, and underlying factors, we can uncover more effective and sustainable approaches to problem-solving.

A quick and easy way to do this is use the 5C framework.

  1. Collect all the available information.

The first step in effectively problem-solving is to collect all relevant information. Gather data, facts, and insights related to the problem at hand. Ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of the issue and its underlying factors. This step involves conducting research, consulting experts, and reviewing any rules or regulations etc.

  • Consider different perspectives.

Once you have collected the necessary information, it’s important to consider all possible perspectives and viewpoints related to the problem. Consider the opinions, concerns, and ideas of stakeholders involved, including individuals, teams, or communities affected by the issue.

  • Contemplate long term consequences.

Now that you have a clearer picture of the problem and its interconnected elements, take time to contemplate the potential outcomes and consequences of different solutions or approaches. Evaluate the short-term and long-term effects, both positive and negative, that each option may have on various stakeholders and the broader context.

  • Connect the Dots

In this stage, focus on connecting the dots and identifying the interrelated factors or causes contributing to the problem. Look for patterns, dependencies, and potential relationships between different variables. By establishing connections, you gain a deeper understanding of the problem’s complexity.

  • Craft your solution

Finally, armed with a comprehensive understanding of the problem and its implications, it’s time to craft well-informed and effective solutions. Use the insights gained from the previous stages to develop a thoughtful and strategic approach to problem-solving. Consider the feasibility, sustainability, and potential impact of each solution and select the one that best addresses the problem while considering all relevant factors.

The 5C framework provides a systematic and thorough approach to problem-solving, ensuring that you consider all factors and perspectives before thinking up solutions. Use this 5C framework as a guide to kickstart your problem-solving process.

Enjoy this article? Read more about innovation and creativity in Ideas Like Shoes.

Build Innovation and Creativity at Work.