As a leader, one of your primary duties is to problem solve and make decisions. It’s the price you pay for sitting in the driver’s seat. Problems arise within your organization, and decisions must be made.
Occasionally, as best as you can, you solve the problem yourself. Most of the time it is wiser to take the problem to others, and work out a decision with them. Notice, though, in either event you are involved.
Decisions are not easy. Have you ever wished you had something as simple as “Gideon’s fleece” to help make them? I cannot offer anything so dramatic but I can give you some principles that will enable you to move from problem to decision more quickly and with better results.
How to Problem Solve in Your Business
1. Ask Questions First.
Experience has proven that the person who asks questions first approaches the problem better than the person who asks no questions. The basic six questions are: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How? The answers to these questions provide you with a good foundation for dealing with a problem.
Don’t move forward without having clearly answered at least four of these questions.
2. Classify Your Problems
Problems come in all shapes and sizes. You will have less trouble making decisions if don’t consider all problems as being alike. Learn to classify them by answering the following questions:
- Should you be making decisions on this problem or can others handle it?
- Is this a new problem or an old problem?
- Does this problem have to be solved now?
- Is it a people problem?
3. Develop a Systematic Approach for Solving All Problems
If you don’t have a systematic approach for problem solving, develop one. Below is a checklist that you can use.
- List All of the Symptoms. What are the signs that you have a problem?
- Determine the real problem. Study the symptoms as you have them listed and determine what could have caused them and why they exist.
- Gather the Facts. Once you have identified the real problem, go on a fact-finding hunt. Get the facts that relate to the history, cost, time factors, performance, personnel involved, etc.
- Define Your Expectations. Keep in mind that you don’t solve problems to merely get them out of the way. You solve them in order to get closer to reaching the objectives of the organization.
- Contemplate Various Solutions. Comparing expectations with the facts will bring alternative solutions to mind. Write all solutions down. Then by the process of elimination come to your first choice, your second choice, and perhaps a third.
- Consider What You Are Going to Do with Your Solution. Your decision must be converted into action. The action often involves people who were not present at the decision-making. In order to get “buy-in” there must be some type of “on boarding” process to the decision that has been made.
Once a decision has been reached plan to evaluate its results periodically. You may be overwhelmed at this point with all the steps we have outlined. They may seem lengthy and laborious, but if you follow them you will discover that they are time savers. It will take you a while to get into the habit of using these steps. Remember the goal is not to always make the “best” decision, it is to make a “better” decision based on a better process.
I will teach more on this at our annual WealthBuilders Business Mastery Workshop. If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to click here to purchase your ticket and get more information!