In the case of business problems, it takes a lot of work to successfully identify and solve them.
How often have we been asked – “What’s the problem?” And how do we respond? The most likely response, almost without thinking is, “nothing” or “I don’t know.”
We can list symptoms of a problem – but most of us aren’t that skilled at defining or recognizing the true problem. We can relate to a “problem experience” where we’ve been on the receiving end – frustration, wasted time, inability to complete tasks, etc.
Some IT examples might include -can’t send large files, archive or backup doesn’t work.
So, how do we become better at defining problems, then taking action where appropriate?
Distinguish between symptoms and the problem by asking questions, assembling information, including facts and evidence to help you arrive at the root cause.
How would you describe the problem; how often does it happen?
When does the problem occur?
Where does it happen?
What is the measurable impact of the problem on the business? Is there an impact that cannot be reliably measured but is still important? For example, can company culture be measured?
Why – here’s Wikipedia link showing The 5 Whys as a great tool to find the problem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Whys
Optimal outcomes – with enough time and money, we can solve any problem. But we never have enough of either (or both). What’s the goal in this case?
Once we’ve defined the problem – is it a priority, do we have the authority and the resources to solve it? Can the problem be managed without solving it? Is it growing?
Watch, maintain, manage or resolve? What are the consequences of taking action or no action?
The net result – regardless of our company or position, our job is to solve problems.
What do you think?
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