joi, 18 aprilie 2013


Before you try to solve an important problem, use the CATWOE checklist to brainstorm the various people and elements that are affected.

Taking the example of low employee retention rates that we used at the start of this article, start your thinking not with reasons why it is happening or by trying to identify solutions, but by using CATWOE to expand your thinking about the situation in general.

Step One: Define what you are thinking about. Remember, this is not a problem statement; It is merely a statement describing the situation.

“Thinking about ways to improve employee retention”

Step Two: Brainstorm ideas around the various CATWOE elements

C: Customers
Who is being served and what problems are they experiencing?

Organization as a whole:
  • Lower productivity because not enough people
  • High costs of retraining
  • High costs of losing customers
  • More work with lots of vacancies
  • Stress because of increased workload
  • Low moral with the high turnover
Organization’s Customers:
  • Low production and inexperienced staff affects quality and supply
  • Higher levels of dissatisfaction
A: Actors
Who will implement the solution?

HR department:
  • Must look at recruiting techniques
  • Must look at internal systems that may be affecting employee leaving rates
Organization wide:
  • Must look at how employees are treated
  • How are employees trained and supported?
  • How can we keep people happy?
Impacts: Lots more work for everyone, may trigger cultural changes
T: Transformation
What is being affected?

The system of recruiting and selecting employees including advertising, resume screening, interviewing, testing, reference checking

Other systems:
  • Performance evaluation
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Training and development
  • Mentoring and coaching
W: World View
What is the larger picture?

Is our company culture driving people away? Or are we not hiring the right employees? Or are we driving the right employees away? Do people feel that they - or we - are making a positive contribution to the world?
O: Owner
Who owns the process currently?

Individual managers across the organization
HR Department

Must be aware of resistance to change. Have to show value in terms of money and satisfaction.
E: Environmental
What constraints must you work under?

A culture that is traditional and change resistant
Time and money – we need lots of both
Employees’ market – it's hard to find staff

Step Three: Analyze your “answers” to the CATWOE questions. Look for underlying processes that are having the greatest impact on the issue you are investigating.

Corporate culture
Employee training

Step Four: From these processes, separate out the problems that you can identify and then begin your process of problem solving. Notice that you will have a larger number of problems, and presumably more root problems, than you would otherwise have started out with.

Our company culture isn’t people-oriented – new people are left to “sink or swim”
There's no orientation training
The rewards we give aren't motivating and engaging people
Key Points
CATWOE is a method for expanding your thinking about a problem or situation before you zero in on a specific problem that you want to solve.

By analyzing the CATWOE factors (Customers, Actors, Transformation process, World view, Owner, Environmental constraints) that are influencing an issue of concern, you keep your perspective broad and are able to see the issue from many angles. This is a great tool to keep in mind, especially when you first start thinking about a problem, or try to come up with a solution.

This article is part of the Solve and Decide Learning Stream. To read the next article in this Learning Stream, or to find out more about Learning Streams for Premium members, click on the links below

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