Especially for SME’s – 51: Fixing priorities for customer’s problems- the Table Method.
03 August 2022
Mr. Lowe: It is presumptuous for us to assume the most serious current problem for our customer. It is better to get it from him. But if he does not give priority and asks to solve all problems, the following is the method we recommend: We call it the “Table Method”. If you don’t have answers to the questions mentioned in the method, ask the customer for the answers, he won’t mind answering single questions connected with a problem, though he may say he won’t give the order of priority for all problems.
SME 1: What is the Table Method?
Mr. Lowe: Table Method: Put all the problems/tasks competing for priorities in the form of a table that has the same problems/tasks in both directions of x and Y axes as shown below:
Task/ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total
Problem
Numbers.
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1
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2
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3
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4
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5
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6
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7
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8
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9
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10
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Total
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Draw such a table for as many tasks or problems as your customer 1 tells you that you want to prioritize.
Now take the problem / task no.1 in the column. Ask the question: “If I complete this task first successfully, or solve this problem first successfully, does it help me to solve problem 2?” If the answer to this question is yes, give 1 mark in the cell (1,2) under task 1 in column and against the row of task or problem no.2. If the answer to the above question is no, give 0 mark in the same cell (1,2.) And if the answer is that solving of this problem or completing the task no.2 becomes easier with the solution of problem no.1, give the cell (1,2) a mark of ½.
SME 3: What if we cannot solve problem no.1, after committing?
Mr. Lowe: There is no problem that has no solution! At least while asking this question do not think about how you are going to solve this problem or what all resources you need to solve this etc. at all. Just assume the problem is somehow solved and ask the question does solving this problem number help me to solve the problem against each row, one at a time one after the other, till you exhaust all the problem numbers in all the rows.
That is, you cover all problems in the rows asking the same question “If I complete task or problem no. 1 first successfully”. In this method you have to necessarily give one of the three values of 1,1/2 or 0 to every cell. The diagonal cells will of course be empty. You have to exercise caution before giving 0 to any cell. 0 should not be given just because there is no relationship- functional or logical- between the two tasks or problems. Even though there is no functional or logical relationship between any two tasks or problems, there will always be a psychological relationship. For example, you may feel so relieved by solving one problem psychologically that once you solve that problem the other problem may become easier to solve. In this case the relevant cell should contain a ½, not a 0.
Now take the column no.2 and ask the question “If I complete ;task no. 2 first successfully, does it help me to solve problem no. 1, 3 etc. up to 10 in the above example. Follow the same precautions as for problem no.1. After all the columns are completed, get the horizontal and vertical totals. The total of horizontal totals and the total of vertical totals should tally. This is just a check for the accuracy of many additions that we have to do.