Make The Problem Smaller

A Critical Doer Is Committed To Thinking And Doing 

Wait a minute…in the last post, the critical doer said I should make the problem bigger; now he wants me to make it smaller?

That has to be what you’re thinking if you read my previous post.  The full articulation of the thought is make the problem bigger when you need to figure out what to do.  But suppose you already figured out what do, and your problem is figuring out how to implement the solution?  If that’s where you are in dealing with a tough challenge, it’s actually time to make the problem…smaller!

Just like eating a steak is easier if you cut it into bites, implementing the solution to a complex problem is the same way.  Here’s a “fork and knife” way of thinking that can turn a complex solution into a series of manageable events and mentally put an organization in a better place for action to begin.

  1. Determine factors that are (1) controllable (2) can be made controllable (3) uncontrollable. The first two factors will shape your initial tasks and determine what you can do either on your own or with a feasible partnership.  Your job is to try to convert as many things as possible to controllable to controllable with help.  The uncontrollable remainder represents risk and ultimately determines whether or not to press ahead or try something different.
  2. Phasing.  Solutions have a natural sequence of events where certain actions must be done to pave the way for others…phasing is a way of managing both the work and time.  Phasing also lends itself to setting short term goals…which in turn produces victories that build excitement and momentum in an organization.
  3. Delegate.  Anything worth doing can rarely be done by one person.  Delegation creates owners who buy in more deeply to an idea and an organization.  Every problem is an opportunity for a team to grow more committed…if you’re willing to let go enough to give people space to grow.
  4. Coordinate.  Effective coordination consists of two elements:  communication and oversight.  Communication is crucial in managing expectations and creating an inclusive environment that unleashes the full power of human creativity.  Oversight keeps activities synchronized, ensures adequacy of resources, reinforces vision, and facilitates midcourse corrections that keep a project on track.

In tying together this post and the previous post, there are two questions to ask when scoping a problem.  If your situation is not knowing what to do, make the problem bigger.  If you have figured out what to do but you’re stuck on how, follow the critical doer methodology to make the problem smaller.

Remember…the critical doer looks to think deeply and critically to get to the point where action can begin.  Follow these patterns of thought and you will find yourself accomplishing things beyond your expectations.  It’s what a critical doer would…do!


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Updated: February 12, 2015 — 2:57 am