Event Problem Solving – A Blinding Flash of the Obvious
You solve problems every day. You feel a sense of accomplishment, self-satisfaction, and maybe even relief. But the very next week, the same problem, a similar problem, or a related problem rears its ugly head. You get Déjà vu and wonder what went wrong. You hear yourself saying, “Didn’t I tell them….” “I explained ….” “I thought they heard me say …” Maybe yes and maybe no. If this is happening to you, you may be engaging in event problem solving.
Event problem solving is solving what is happening at the moment with no further investigation. Event problem solving merely applies a band aid to what can be a manifestation of a larger, more deeply rooted issue. These issues can sometimes be the foundation of the culture of an organization. Unfortunately, more likely than not, these are more negative than positive. So how can leadership “see it coming?” When coaching leaders, I will often explain that if you see a problem once, you may take a brief notice of it. If you see the same problem twice, your ears should perk up. If you see that same problem a third time, now you have a trend or pattern. This is how a reoccurring problem formulates and infests an organization. By the time this pattern develops, it is no doubt affecting many aspects of your organization and business. So what is the plan for deeper problem solving?
Just as you have a business plan, there should also be a plan or system for solving problems. Most of us simply look at what seems to be a case of the blinding flash of the obvious. Examples might be: “The reason this isn’t working is that IT was too slow to implant the changes.” If the changes have been implanted and it still isn’t working…hello? “This new customer service program isn’t working because the employees just didn’t buy into it.” Well, that may be true, but WHY didn’t they buy into? Is leadership supporting the program and if not, why not? Hmmmmmm. “The bank examiners are upset, several compliance items due this week have not gotten done.” Why haven’t they gotten completed? Oh, Lily just couldn’t get to them. Well why couldn’t Lily get to them? Was it just simply a time management issue? Oh, Lily is drinking on the job and no one has the courage to address it and get Lily the help she needs, eliminate the obstacle of not getting work accomplished, reducing penalties and increasing productivity. Dear Readers, I’m not clever enough to make these cases up. So let’s look at what having a problem solving system in place can do.
- It can prevent problem solvers from jumping to conclusions and just assigning the blinding flash of the obvious as the reason(s) for the problem.
- When root causes are uncovered, they are much more difficult to ignore or sweep under the carpet and go unaddressed.
- Problem solving can be an enigma to many. However, if everyone is using a system, it helps to 1. Alleviate uncertainty and 2. Reduce biases that may prevent solutions from appearing and worse exacerbating the issue.
- A good problem solving system provides analytical tools and offers guidance on how to best use them.
Here is an easy system or formula for problem solving.
Event problem solving = being reactive
Recognizing patterns of behavior = forecasting
Looking deeper or in a systematic manner = being proactive.
You can read more about this “formula” here https://goo.gl/eLjNFc
Ensure that everyone on your team understands how a problem solving system can help make life easier, reduce conflict, and remove obstacles that prevent your organization from reaching goals. Oh yeah, and it will reduce those blinding flashes.
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