“Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterward to solve other problems.” – Rene Descarte
In the past year, businesses have had to become more flexible to keep pace with our fast-moving, ever-changing environment. With new regulations, numerous health concerns, and guidelines impacting long-standing practices, we find ourselves grappling with any number of issues in any given week.
Managing operations in our fluid environment sometimes require quick decision-making with many unknowns still on the table. Knowing when to shelve a long-term plan in favor of short-term projects temporarily has almost become an art in our current economy. Addressing and assessing the issues then recording the take-aways will serve us well.
Learning to Appreciate Issues
“Don’t wish it was easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.” – Jim Rohm
It is normal when running a business to encounter and address issues of all types. Small family businesses, national franchises, and massive global conglomerates have something in common; they expect to address issues of all kinds. Some issues are to be expected even while projects are running on schedule, and everything is going as planned. Knowing you’ll be addressing something sooner or later prepares you ahead of time.
Someone noted that “Life without problems is a school without lessons,” how true that is. Learning to anticipate and prepare for issues avoids “the problem” before the problem. Lack of preparedness is “the problem.” Airline Pilots go through engine-out procedures numerous times and may never experience that particular crisis. Having plans for a variety of problems or emergencies you may not encounter is still wise.
Anticipating possible issues gets your head in the game before it begins. Preparing for the possibility that you may be facing a challenging situation allows for the possibility of turning it into an opportunity. Dr. Robert Schuller would say, “Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that preparedness and creativity give you an edge in times of crisis. Some organizations have entertained ideas of facing several scenarios, never ruling out the possibility of encountering one or all of them. Thinking through and preparing for possible issues is invaluable because it builds confidence and inspires creativity.
Thinking Through the Issues
“Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity” – Gerhard Gschwandtner
Keeping your team informed about issues other organizations face and discussing them together will go a long way in learning to recognize and identify specific patterns that lead to reoccurring problems. It’s surprising how many companies fail to recognize trends and learn from them and still end up repeating them.
Steve Maraboli remarks, “Sometimes problems don’t require a solution to solve them; instead, they require maturity to outgrow them.” Give your people an edge by thinking through an issue and developing a plan to address it, even if you’re not currently experiencing it.
The practice of thinking through issues as though you’re already facing them enables your people to become adept at anticipating and successfully addressing issues before they become a problem. This exercise might also uncover a gifted problem-solver in your midst.
“Give up the thought that you have control. You don’t. The best you can do is adapt, anticipate, be flexible, sense the environment and respond.” – Frances Arnold
More companies should seriously consider adding periodic “think-tank” discussions about what to do if specific issues do arise. Having some protocols in place could prevent some scenarios from playing out or enable personnel to address them “in house” successfully.
Consider the following six questions adapted from our Master Operating System’s Issues section; they may be of some help to you and your organization. Having plans in place for addressing all kinds of issues allows your company to respond while maintaining productivity without forfeiting vital activities.
- Is your leadership team open and honest, demonstrating a high level of communication and trust?
- Are you basing performance reviews on the team members’ adherence to a specific statistic[s], along with consistently living the organization’s core values?
- Do you have a systematic way of addressing issues within the organization?
- Do you have a systematic way of prioritizing issues within the organization?
- Do you have the equivalent of a future projects folder/box that allows you to keep projects which are not urgent on the radar screen?
- Do you have a way of effectively managing the risks of the organization? (1)
“Learn to reframe those things that appear to be problems into those things that give you an opportunity instead.” – Catherine Pulsifer
(1) Learn more about our Master Operating System https://bit.ly/3fxSTLx
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