Is that really the problem?

Linda LaitalaBusiness, Leadership, ManagementLeave a Comment


You may think you are adept at solving problems in your organization, but are you certain you’re working on the real problem? In a survey of 106 executives from 91 companies, 85% agreed that their organizations are poor at problem diagnosis. 87% were concerned that this flaw carried significant costs. Translated that means that we frequently spin our wheels wasting significant time with little progress. Before we can solve problems, we need to determine what problems to work on!

Figuring out the right thing to do is as important, if not more so, than doing things right. Why is it so hard to identify the real problem?

Organizations reward activity not diagnosis. Scores of decisions are made by baby boomer executives who are less technologically astute and admit to being change adverse.

It’s hard to slow down and think. The incredible pace of today’s economy results in a culture of busyness and urgency. The current wisdom is it’s better to be “doing” rather than sitting idle and thinking (i.e. doing nothing).

It’s hard to admit we’re wrong. Leaders have to make difficult and decisive decisions – which at times backfire and impede the very results they seek. Rather than pausing and assessing the problem, they remain committed to their original diagnosis and are mentally closed to other possibilities.

What’s your process for identifying issues that need your attention? Are you proactive and focused on continually learning and open to alternative solutions?

There are many business books available that talk about identifying and solving problems:

⦁ Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
⦁ Execution by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan
⦁ The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran
⦁ Traction by Gino Wickman

Each book has merit and may assist you in determining what problems you should focus on.

Take the time needed to diagnose what’s really going on before taking action, otherwise you may find that you’re solving the wrong problem. My carpenter grandfather used to say, “Measure twice – cut once”. I think he had the right idea.

The road is easier together,

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