Solving the Real Problem

One of the first things we should do in the very early stage of a shura is to determine if the statement of the problem given to us is the right problem for us to try to solve. We do this by performing a diagnosis which essentially means trying to answer the question “What is going on here?”

Trying to answer this question allows us to better understand the situation we are faced with. Even though the person who initiates a shura is responsible for providing context for the factors that explain what the shura is all about, some of the explanation may not be clear and may not be complete.

For example, a shura might be presented to us as calling for a solution to the problem of not having enough money to finance a project. We look deeply into the situation and find instances where earlier decisions had been made that led to using available funds to finance activities that were inconsistent with the aim of the project.

We then ask what was going on that allowed this to happen and we eventually learn it was due to contention between two key stakeholders who strongly opposed each other. Consequently, people who earlier had committed to funding the project decided to stop supporting it.

If this example were real, then we would understand that we are actually trying to solve a different problem than the one given us.

An accurate diagnosis allows us to link facts into patterns and suggests that more attention should be given to some issues relative to other ones. It also makes it easier for us to see similarities between our situation and others from which we may learn valuable lessons.

The shura initiator should provide enough time in the Discuss phase to determine if the correct focus of the shura has been described. If changes need to be made it is better to make them as soon as possible to allow participants to reorient their thinking.

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