We specialise in hard problems, particularly where the client has no idea where to start looking for a solution.
We tackle these problems using a large, integrated set of methods that we have collected from a diverse range of fields. These enable us to see what is really going on, and to identify new solutions. Often, those solutions turn out to be very simple and easy, once they’re known.
Example: The case of the simplified software
This was a case that Gordon solved during a talk he was giving. He was explaining how some problems are neither simple either/or cases, nor greyscales, but actually a combination of both, as in the diagram below, where some cases are definitely dangerous (red) and some are definitely safe (white) but some fall on a greyscale between the two.
At this point, a software group in the audience realised that they had been designing a new piece of software as if all the cases it handled were on the greyscale, which was computationally very expensive. Instead, they could make the software much more efficient by simply weeding out the easy cases first, and saving the computationally expensive route for the much smaller number of greyscale cases. With hindsight, this was an obvious solution, but it took the right visual representation for them to see a better solution that had been in front of them all along.
What do people really want? Much of our work involves cases where people are unable to say exactly what they think, or want, or know, even when they want to. This is a particular issue when designing new products and services.
System structure problems. If you’re dealing with a system such as an organisation or a complex procedure, it isn’t working properly, and the usual experts can’t help, we might be able to find an answer. Many problems can be easily explained by classic systems theory and game theory; for instance, when you improve some parts of a system but the system as a whole doesn’t improve, or gets worse.
What is everyone missing? Many errors involve missing opportunities and possibilities. One common case is clients who want to improve their products or services radically, but don’t know where to start.
What’s the real problem? A common situation is when clients know they have a problem somewhere, but don’t know what the root cause is. We specialise in this type of case.