The Challenges of Growing a Business - Problem Solving
New businesses often run in perpetual crisis mode. Every day brings new challenges that urgently need resolving and management spends most of their time troubleshooting.
As your business grows, this approach simply doesn't work. While a short-term crisis is always urgent, it may not matter nearly as much as other things you could be doing. Spending your time soothing an irritated customer might help protect that one relationship - but focusing instead on recruiting the right salesperson could lay the foundations of substantial new sales for years to come.
As your business grows, you also need to be alert to new problems and priorities.
Identifying the key drivers of growth is a good way of understanding what to prioritise.
A disciplined approach to management focuses on leading employees, developing your management team and building your business strategy. Instead of treating each problem as a one-off, you develop systems and structures that make it easier to handle in the future.
3 Common Reactions
People tend to do three things when faced with a problem:
They get afraid or uncomfortable and wish it would go away;
They feel that they have to come up with an answer and it has to be the right answer;
They look for someone to blame.
Being faced with a problem becomes a problem. And that's a problem because, in fact, there are always going to be problems!
Why we see a Problem as a Problem
There are two reasons why we tend to see a problem as a problem:
it has to be solved and we're not sure how to find the best solution,
and there will probably be conflicts about what the best solution is.
Most of us tend to be "conflict-averse". We don't feel comfortable dealing with conflict and we tend to have the feeling that something bad is going to happen.
The goal of a good problem-solving process is to make us and our organization more "conflict-friendly" and "conflict-competent."
What to remember about Problems and Conflicts
There are two important things to remember about problems and conflicts:
they happen all the time and
they are opportunities to improve the system and the relationships.
They are actually providing us with information that we can use to fix what needs fixing and do a better job. When we look at problems this way, we can almost begin to welcome problems! (Not quite.)
The most common mistake in problem solving is trying to find a solution right away.
Why? Because it tries to put the solution at the beginning of the process, when what we need is a solution at the end of the process.
This process can be used in a large group, between two people, or by one person who is faced with a difficult decision. The more difficult and important the problem, the more helpful and necessary it is to use a disciplined process.
If you're just trying to decide where to go out for lunch, you probably don't need to go through these seven steps!
7 Steps for Problem Solving
Here are seven-steps for an effective problem-solving process.
1. Identify the issues.
Be clear about what the problem is.
Remember that different people might have different views of what the issues are.
Separate the listing of issues from the identification of interests (that's the next step!).
2. Understand everyone's interests.
This is a critical step that is usually missing.
Interests are the needs that you want satisfied by any given solution. We often ignore our true interests as we become attached to one particular solution.
The best solution is the one that satisfies everyone's interests.
This is the time for active listening. Put down your differences for awhile and listen to each other with the intention to understand.
Separate the naming of interests from the listing of solutions.
3. List the possible solutions (options)
This is the time to do some brainstorming. There may be lots of room for creativity.
Separate the listing of options from the evaluation of the options.
4. Evaluate the options
What are the pluses and minuses? Honestly!
Separate the evaluation of options from the selection of options.
5. Select an option or options
What's the best option, in the balance?
Is there a way to "bundle" a number of options together for a more satisfactory solution?
6. Document the agreement(s)
Don't rely on memory.
Writing it down will help you think through all the details and implications.
7. Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation
Conditions may change. Make contingency agreements about foreseeable future circumstances (If-then!).
How will you monitor compliance and follow-through?
Create opportunities to evaluate the agreements and their implementation. ("Let's try it this way for three months and then look at it.")
For help with the Challenges of Growing Your Business, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to also visit our website to learn more about the services we offer to help you Position Your Potential: https://www.therevenuegroup.net/.
I also invite you to download the white paper and learn the 5 step process on How to Quickly Increase Your Valuation: a Proven 5 Step Process.