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There are more than thirty different ways to call all those unpleasant and stressful situations which prevent us from directly achieving what we want to achieve. Life is full of them. This is why the ability to solve problems in an effective and timely manner without any impediments is considered to be one of the most key and critical skill for resolutive and successful leaders. But is not just leaders or top managers facing the way forward. According to a Harvard Bussiness Review survey, people’s skills depends on their level on the organization and their particular job and activities. However, when coming to problem-solving, there is a remarkable consistency about the importance of it within all the different measured organization levels.
There are small problems and big problems. Those ones that we laugh about and those that take our sleep away. Problems that affect just us or our whole company. Issues that need to be resolved proactively and others that require us to wait and observe. There is a special kind of problem for every day of our lives, but all of them responds to a common denominator: addressing them adequately. It is our ability to do so what makes the difference between success and failure.
Problems manifest themselves in many different ways. As inconsistent results or performance. As a failure toward standards. As discrepancies between expectations and reality. The uniqueness of every different issue makes the need for an also adapted and individualized solution. This is why finding the way forward can be sometimes tricky. There are many reasons why it is difficult to find a solution to a problem, but you can find the six more common causes and the way to overcome them!
1. Difficulty to recognize that there is a problem
Nobody likes to be wrong. “Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when the self-concept — I’m smart, I’m kind, I’m convinced this belief is true — is threatened by evidence that we did something that wasn’t smart, that we did something that hurt another person, that the belief isn’t true,” explains Carol Tavris.
Problems and mistakes are not easy to digest. To reduce this cognitive dissonance, we need to modify our self-concept or well deny the evidence. Many times is just easier to simply turn our back to an issue and blindly keep going. But the only way to end it up to satisfactory is to make an effort to recognize and accept the evidence. Being wrong is human and until the problem is not acknowledged solutions will never materialize. To fully accept that something is not going the way it should, the easiest way is to focus on the benefits of new approaches and always remain non-judgemental about the causes. Sometimes we may be are afraid of the costs in terms of resources, time and physical or mental efforts that working for the solution may eventually bring. We may need then to project ourselves in all the fatalistic consequences that we will finally encounter in case we continue sunk in the problem. Sometimes we really need to visualize the disaster before accepting a need for change.
2. Huge size problem
Yes! We clearly know that something is going wrong. But the issue is so big that there is no way we can try to solve it without blowing our life into pieces. Fair enough. Some problems are so big that it is not possible to find at once a solution for them. But we can always break them into smaller pieces and visualize the different steps and actions that we could eventually undertake to get to our final goal. Make sure you do not lose sight of the original problem!
3. Poorly framed problem
Without the proper framing, there is no certainty about the appropriate focus on the right problem. Asking the relevant questions is a crucial aspect to it. Does your frame of the problem capture its real essence? Do you have all the background information needed? Can you rephrase the problem and it is still understandable? Have you explored it from different perspectives? Are different people able to understand your frame for the problem correctly? Answering to the right problem in the right way depends 95% on the correct framing of it!
‘If I have an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution’ (Albert Einstein)
4. Lack of respect for rhythms
There is always a right time for preparation, a right time for action and a right time for patience. Respecting the rhythms of a problem is directly link to the success of the solution. Acting too quickly or waiting too long can have real counterproductive effects. There is a need for enough time to gather information and understand all the different upshots of a planned solution. A balance of action is crucial to avoid both eagerness and laxity. Waiting for the proper time to take action is sometimes the most complicated part of it.
5. Lack of problem’roots identification
It is quite often that we feel something is not going the way it should without clearly identifying what the exact problematic issue is. We are able to frame all the negative effects and consequences, but we do not really get to appropriately verbalized what the problem is all together. Consequently, we tend to fix the symptoms without getting to the real causes. It is as common as dangerous and not sustainable for problem-solving.
Make sure that you have a clear picture of what are the roots of the problem and what are just the manifestations or ramifications of it. Double loop always to make sure that you are not patching over the symptoms but getting to the heart of the matter.
6. Failure to identify the involved parts
Take time to figure out and consult every simple part involved in the problem as well as affected by the possible solution. Problems and solutions always have at the core human needs and impacts. Failing to identify and take into consideration the human factor in the problem-solving process will prevent the whole mechanism from reaching the desired final goal.
‘We always hope for the easy fix: the one simple change that will erase a problem in a stroke. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right – one after the other, no slipups, no goofs, everyone pitching in.’ (Atul Gawande)
April 4, 2019 at 10:24AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs