We all must deal with problems on a day to day basis. Some are easy to work through and some less so. When working in business we sometimes don’t think about the problem enough and rush right in to put things right but time and time again we solve the same problem repeatedly. Why? I think that we do it through fear, fear of losing a client, fear of losing our job, or just plain bury your head in the sand and hope that it all goes away.‘Every large problem was once a small problem that could have been easily solved at the time.’
What problems do we commonly have to deal with in business? You can off course categorise difficulties that may come up in business
- Red tape
- Health physical/mental
And so, the list goes on and please feel free to add your own. The categories are not only extensive but varied and it is the variation that is like fighting a paper fire with a water pistol in the desert.
Problem solving strategies
There are numerous articles that deal with strategies for problem solving and they all have a common theme and that is that problems can serve to improve. Protocols, practice and processes and can be used for growing and competing in the market place. In the end all problems are the same they are just packaged differently. Let me explain why. Problems enable you to look at a process closely, analyse why the problem occurred and most importantly devise a better process to stop the problem happening again.
A systematic approach is probably the best way forward. “never shoot from the hip” take time to step back and define the problem clearly, understand the issue down to the root. Remember that there are the facts of life problem which you cannot solve, that is just the way it is and you must devise an effective solution to go around it.
Analysis of an issue from all angles is also required for example; sales are declining so is the problem
a) Poor sales process
c) Ineffective marketing
d) The product
Looking for the root cause rather than treating the symptom the issue is less likely to reoccur.
Identification of several solutions is good practice. The more solutions that you develop the more likely it is that the right solution will be found. Prioritise the solutions an acceptable solution would work now and excellent solution has higher complexity, has a longer timeframe and would probably cost more money.
You now have solution options and it is time to decide, the longer you put it off the higher the cost and the greater the impact, set a deadline and stick to it.
Who is going to be responsible for the solution? Choose. The most important element is to create a measure by which you can test if the solution is working.
Problem solving is, believe it or believe it not the greatest enabler for growth and opportunity hence why failure serves as the greatest lesson in business and in life.
There are also many organisations that you can use as sounding boards for your solutions. It would be easy to ask for a solution, not sure that one would be forthcoming, but you will gain little from someone else solving your difficulty. Take advice but work it out for yourself, you have much to gain.
Of course, the fairy tale would be that we don’t have problems although this is unlikely to be a reality but you can minimise problems by having a sound plan/process to start with.
Problems are not a failure they are an opportunity to consider all aspects, look at it from different angles, get to the root cause, identify multiple possible solutions, prioritise those solutions, decide, assign responsibility and monitor the results.
Last thought every business is about solving your customer’s problems, no problems no business. Problems are an everyday part of the business and personal environment.
Don’t be scared you cannot lose only gain.