Gimme More! A Simple Story Of Identifying The Real Problem

A Critical Doer attacks problems and creates opportunities from the inside out 

I have a simple anecdote to share with you that gives a nice illustration of thinking a problem through to the root cause before identifying a solution.  In other words, solving a problem from the inside out.

In a previous enterprise, a manager was experiencing problems with distribution of a product.  From inventory to accountability of the product, there were serious problems.  The solution the manager proposed was adding more people. “If only there were more people, there wouldn’t be so many errors.”  Not so fast…

Lesson 1:  a solution that comes before identification of the problem rarely works.  There are two “bins” into which the problems of the enterprise could be placed…volume and accuracy.  In this case, 100 percent of the problems went into the accuracy bin.  When this is the case, the problem is process…not people.

Lesson 2:  adding people will help fix a problem with volume, while process changes fix accuracy.  There were no issues with the volume of product being distributed.  The problem was that that the product going out was not distributed and accounted for accurately.  By simply adding more people to the enterprise without first making process adjustments, even more product would have been distributed just as inaccurately.

The lesson you can add to your toolkit that will increase your capacity to do is to ensure solutions don’t precede identification of the real problem.  Had we acted upon the proposed solution without thinking it through, the problem would have become worse.  Your guiding principle is that accuracy problems are fixed with process…problems with volume can be addressed with people.

We all have plenty of opportunities from simple things at home to complex projects at work where we have a chance to make a profound difference by taking time to think through a problem to the root cause before applying a solution.  Through formal education, self-education, and accumulation of experiences you can develop guiding principles of your own to ask the right questions that will lift the veil of mystery from a problem and make the right solution self-evident.

Your challenge is to find that nagging problem at home or work that you’ve been trying to solve, and take a fresh approach to figuring out the real nature of the problem.  If you figure out the real nature of the problem, you’ll find that determining the right solution is far easier.  Give it a try and see how well it works.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: October 17, 2015 — 2:52 pm