Blog of Strategic,General and Financial Management (English/Spanish)

Strategycorner is now expanding its content to include posts about General Management, Financial Management, Finance Transformation, Marketing and HR Management. Posts will be published in English or Spanish.

At the end of the blog there are different charts about Strategic Management in Spanish. In the archive area you could find a lot of posts about strategy and its execution in English/Spanish.

Jesús Peral
Executive MBA IE Business School, Madrid,Spain

Master in Strategic Management
IDE-CESEM Business School, Madrid, Spain

Find at the end of blog all charts related to Strategic Management topics commented in the posts

Mapa Estratégico Genérico/Strategy Map

Mapa Estratégico Genérico/Strategy Map
Mapa Estratégico Completo

Modelo de Dirección Estratégica/Strategic Management Model

Modelo de Dirección Estratégica/Strategic Management Model
Modelo desarrollado en las entradas 1 a 100. Ver archivo del blog
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martes, 2 de agosto de 2016


No matter what you do, things will sometimes go wrong. For those working in multinational organizations and even in small/medium companies and depending on your position, manager, senior manager, etc you will often be called upon to put them right or to employ other people to do it for you.

In this post I would like to comment on the methodology I have applied in different situations where things were really wrong. Obviously the person facing the problem will know better the company, the environment and the circumstances but I think you will recognize some pattern to be used.

Troubleshooting requires some kind of diagnosis ability, to size up the difficulties. Let´s say, know-how, to select the required solution and decide how to implement it and finally a reasonable level of managerial skill to put the solution into effect.

So first, you need to divide the process in parts as follows:

·         Planning

·         Diagnosis

·         Solution

You could use, depending on the level of the problem or your company policy, management consultants. Although I am not against this I think it is worth to try to do it on your own in the first instance. At the end of the day, if you are working on the multinational environment you should be familiar, to some extent, with the methodology they use and on top of that your knowledge of your company is deeper.

The typical approach to be followed would be as follows:

·         Analysis of the present situation. What happened and why

·         Development of alternative solutions to the problem

·         Decision as to the preferred solution, stating the costs and benefits of implementing it

·         Defining the method of proceeding. How and over what time scale should the solution be implemented, who does it and with what resources. For example, if a staged implementation is preferred, the stages will be defined and a plan worked out.

In my view, the most important thing to do at the planning stage is to define the problem, clarify the objectives and terms of reference. A problem defined is a problem half solved. And it is the difficult half. The rest should follow quite naturally if an analytical approach is adopted.

Once you know the problem you can define what you want done and prepare terms of reference for those who are conducting the investigation.

Diagnosis means finding out what is happening, the symptom, and then digging to establish why it is happening, therefore the cause. Your skills will allow you to dissect the facts, sort out what is relevant to the problem and refine it all down until it reveals the crucial pieces of information which show the cause of the problem and point its solution. During the process of diagnosis it is needed you remain open-minded. Listen and observe, but suspend judgement until you can arrange all the facts against all the opinions.

Base your diagnosis on analysis of the factors likely to have contributed to the problem, for example, people, systems, structure and circumstances. And finally develop your checklist.

My standard checklist is as follows:


1.       Have mistakes being made? If so, why? For example, is it because the team is badly managed or trained in the topic causing the problem?

2.       If management is at fault, was the problem one of system, structure or even the managers themselves?

3.       If the people doing the job are inadequate why were they selected in the first place?


1.       To what extent are poor systems or procedures to blame for the problem?

2.       Is the fault in the system themselves? For example, are they badly designed or inappropriate?

3.       Or is it the fault of the people who operate and manage the systems? In this case we need to find out the circumstances leading to the situation.


1.       How far has the company or management structure contributed to the problem?

2.       Do people know what is expected of them? Very typical question, indeed.

3.       Are activities grouped together logically so that adequate control can be exercised over them?

4.       Are managers and senior managers clear about their responsibilities for maintaining control and do they exercise these responsibilities effectively? It is likely this is familiar to many readers!!!


1.       To what extent, if any, is the problem a result of circumstances beyond the control of those concerned? For example, have external economic pressures or changing policies had a detrimental effect? Sometimes this is the issue.

2.       If there have been external pressures, has there been a failure to anticipate or to react quickly enough to them. Very typical situation as well.

3.       Have adequate resources, for example, people, funding and materials, been made available and if not, why not?

You can create your own checklist, of course, as it will help you to face successfully the final part, the solution.

The diagnosis should point the way to the solution. But this may still mean that you have to evaluate different ways of dealing with the problem. There is no one best way only a choice of different alternatives. You need to narrow them until you reach the one which, let´s say, on balance, is better than the others.

Avoid being too theoretical. Take into account the circumstances, including the ability of people available to deal with the problem. Your recommendation should be practical in the sense that it can be made to work with resources which are readily available and within acceptable timings. You should make clear not only what needs to be done but how it is to be done. Assess costs and benefits and demonstrate that the benefits outweigh the costs.

And finally take care when you apportion blame to individuals. They could be victims of poor management, poor training or circumstances beyond their control. Their help may be essential in overcoming the trouble. It is unwise to destroy their confidence or their willingness to help.

To summarize, your recommendation have to be realistic, phased in without undue disruption and without spending more time and money that is justified by the results.