Session Outline

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The Art of Diagnosis: Solving the Right Problem the First Time
with Dr. Jackson Nickerson

Date: October 11, 2018
Session Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Location Information:
Royal Scots Club
29-31 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE
0131 556 4270
Session Description
How often do you walk into a meeting called to tackle a problem and within the first few minutes, participants already are debating about a solution? Jumping to a solution is one of the most prevalent and pernicious maladies in organizations, which leads to delayed problem solving, high costs, and sluggish responsiveness that can demoralize an entire organization. The Art of Diagnosis provides new insights into how individuals and teams can solve the right problem the first time. The critical challenge is that all too often when tackling problems, individuals and teams suffer from a set of biases and impediments that cause them to focus on problem solving. In contrast, this program focuses on the art of comprehensively formulating problems before solving them. Participants will learn a variety of specific and proven processes to help them and their teams solve the right problem the first time.

Dr. Jackson Nickerson is the Frahm Family Professor of Organization and Strategy at Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School. He also is the Associate Dean and Director of Brookings Executive Education and a Senior Non-resident Scholar in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. A prior systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a BSME from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MSME from U.C. Berkeley, Jackson combines his engineering systems knowledge with an MBA and Ph.D. in Business Strategy both from U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He is a globally recognized expert in organization design and its performance implications as well as in critical thinking for business decisions, for which the Olin Business School won the inaugural MBA Roundtable Innovator’s Award. He also is the creator of Leading Thinking™, a new approach for developing leaders taught through Brookings Executive Education. Jackson has published numerous papers in leading academic journals and is the author or editor of four books. His latest book is entitled Leading Change from the Middle: A Practical Guide to Building Extraordinary Capabilities (Brookings, 2014). He consults with business, government, and nonprofits on problem diagnosis, strategy, and leading change. In addition to serving on corporate boards, Jackson is a co-founder and business director of NFORMD.NET, a new media company that provides sexual assault prevention programs to universities and the U.S. Army.
Time Allocation - Topics
10% Why is solving the right problem the first time important?

20% Why don’t individuals and teams often fail to solve the right problem?

20% How can individuals figure out what the right problem is?

20% How can teams figure out what the right problem is?

20% How can you reprogram your brain to avoid common biases and impediments to solving the right problem?

10% What can you do to impact your organization tomorrow?
Guide to Participant Selection
1 indicates primary target audience.
2 indicates a good fit if the level of material is appropriate.
3 indicates (in the opinion of the institute and the faculty) very limited applicability.
Senior Executive
(Pres, Exec & Sr VP)
(VP & Gen'l Mgr)
Senior Managers
(Div & Reg. Mgrs)
Middle Managers
& Superintendents

Introductory    Intermediate    Advanced
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