Inclusive Problem-Solving and Culture Transformation: Insights from Rebecca Snelling of RS Consulting

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 03-28-24

In this episode of the People Solve Problems podcast, Jamie Flinchbaugh welcomes Rebecca Snelling, the owner of RS Consulting. The conversation focuses on the themes of collaboration, problem-solving, leadership, and the importance of a culture that supports these endeavors within the design and construction industry.

Rebecca brings a wealth of experience in coaching individuals, teams, and organizations on leadership and lean transformation, with a particular emphasis on culture advancement. She has a significant presence in the design and construction sector, contributing to various industry events both in the US and internationally. Her work involves helping clients to understand their current and target conditions and devising strategies to achieve their objectives effectively.

During the episode, Jamie and Rebecca explore the intricacies of collaboration in problem-solving. Rebecca underscores the importance of understanding a problem’s impacts and the people it affects, advocating for the inclusion of diverse perspectives in the problem-solving process. She shares a compelling anecdote about a painter who, despite being unrelated to a construction project, provided a breakthrough solution during a planning session. This story highlights the value of external perspectives and the potential of “half-baked” ideas to spark innovation.

Rebecca also discusses the concept of “touching the outside of the problem,” emphasizing the need to balance inclusivity with effectiveness. She suggests various strategies for managing large groups and ensuring productive collaboration, such as pre-discussions, breaking into smaller groups, and focusing on perspectives that offer the most value.

The conversation then shifts to the dynamics of problem-solving teams, with Rebecca advocating for a critical and thoughtful approach to team composition and problem scope. She warns against the inefficiency of involving too many participants and the necessity of maintaining a lean team for agility and speed.

Rebecca further addresses the balance between speed, thoroughness, and inclusion in problem-solving. She points out the pendulum swing between extremes and the importance of finding a middle ground that maximizes efficiency without sacrificing quality. She champions the development of problem-solving skills across the organization to empower more individuals and groups to address challenges effectively.

Ideation and brainstorming form another critical part of their discussion. Rebecca stresses the importance of setting clear expectations for brainstorming sessions, encouraging the sharing of half-baked ideas to foster collaboration and innovation. She mentions using tools like Mural for asynchronous collaboration and emphasizes the value of engaging younger or less experienced team members to bring fresh perspectives.

The episode encapsulates the essence of problem-solving in collaborative environments, highlighting the importance of diverse perspectives, the judicious composition of problem-solving teams, and the balance between speed and thoroughness. Rebecca’s insights offer valuable lessons for leaders and organizations aiming to foster a culture that champions effective problem-solving and innovation.

For more on Rebecca’s work and insights, visit her website and connect with her on LinkedIn