Designing business solutions. When a problem arises, oftentimes people spiral. Whether they spiral into overreaction or freeze into inaction, the spiraling is never a good start to problem-solving. We’ve found the easiest way to ensure the best response to problems is to follow these two steps: 1.) define the essential problem, and 2.) prioritize your actions to solve the essential problems.
Now, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “Gee, thanks a lot.” But we’re not going to stop there with the advice. Let’s break these two steps down. First, oftentimes we jump to conclusions about what the actual problem is. Or we see one part of the problem and rush to fix that. This advice might seem counterintuitive, but we always say it’s best to take a breath and then assess the situation. We’ve seen it too many times when people jump into action before understanding what the problem is. But we’ve also seen where people take a breath that lasts for too long and allows the problem to snowball. By stepping back and reflecting, you’re more likely to solve the root cause and not just the symptoms of the issue. It’ll also give you time to realize there may be more than one issue to work out.
To prioritize your actions to solve the essential problem you will need to define and apply a set of criteria. Once you have a good sense of what the essential problem is, be careful to avoid the temptation of immediately making the jump to fix it. That’s how inexperienced problem-solvers spring into action. Through experience, we have learned that it is better to take a couple more steps to confirm that you have really nailed down the essential problem, the root cause underneath the problem’s visible symptoms.
One way to address this is to talk to your stakeholders, share with them your understanding of the complex problem to be solved, ask questions, and iterate. There are a few techniques to use in this case, which are primarily a combination of observation, stakeholder interview, and analysis. It’s easy to get swept away by the fast-paced nature of our everyday life and demands, but when we do this we often only solve surface problems, leaving the root cause to grow and bring more problems down the line.
Too often, people jump in on how to solve a problem and forget to ask first what the problem is and, second, why the problem exists in the first place. The question becomes not only “How do we define the problem?” but also, “Why is the problem happening?” Surprisingly that’s the question most people do not ask.
For more information about how to prioritize your actions, explore embedded-knowledge.com.