Most businesses have problems, or issues they need to solve. But a lot of the time, it’s difficult to know how to approach them, and ultimately, solve them. These 4 steps will show you exactly how to solve them the right way.
A lot of businesses now report that at least 50% of the business solutions that are provided, or implemented in their business, fall short of actually solving the problem. Why is that?
Unfortunately, most businesses are missing a key ingredient in solving those problems.
Key ingredient for problem-solving
I will first give you an example. Let’s say your stomach is bothering you. You believe that since you have a stomach problem, you just need an antacid and the problem will go away. When that doesn’t work, you try two antacids. It still doesn’t work. Then you think that maybe you are just hungry, so you eat something. You still have a problem. Finally, you go to the doctor and find out that the cause of your stomach problem was an infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics.
How does this relate to business? Many companies and teams look at the symptoms of the business and come up with solutions based on a symptom here or there. But they don’t actually find the root cause of the problem before coming up with a solution.
By only reacting to problems, you may not take the time required to define the root cause. You may try to solve the problem too quickly without looking into alternative solutions. You may even choose a quick fix today, that could potentially create a bigger problem tomorrow.
4 steps that can help you develop a solution to your business problems
First, you need to agree with all of the stakeholders involved that there is a problem and make sure everyone is on the same page with regards to solving it.
Identify the problem
Once everyone is on board, you can begin by identifying the problem. Work together to establish what is causing the issue, without providing a solution. You simply want to understand the “cause” and “effect” of the matter.
In order to do this, you may even need to begin tracing the problem back to the source. Depending on how deep-rooted the problem is, you could be tracing back through several layers of data or processes before getting to the root cause. Is it a single process that is causing the breakdown, or is it a domino effect, where the first or “prime” breakdown occurs and then creates another, and another, and another, until the problem reveals itself?
Let’s say you are riding a bicycle and a mile down the road you have to stop because you have a flat tire. The problem is that you can no longer ride your bicycle and the cause was due to a flat tire or was it? If you take the time to look at the problem further, the chain of events will be revealed, which in this case, was actually the “chain”! The chain was old and rusted out with a piece of metal that pierced the tire, thus making it flat. If you had simply replaced the tire, you would have another flat very soon.
The bottom line is that you need to trace the problem and identify exactly what caused the problem because it’s not always the obvious answer. (see related: The 5 Biggest Challenges Facing Your Small Business)
Come up with multiple solutions
Have a brainstorming session with your team to come up with several solutions that will solve the problem.
Ask questions about the problem, throw out ideas, and come up with around 3-5 possible solutions. If all the solutions sound similar, keep one of them and start over to get the rest.
Choose the best solution
As you consider each of the solutions on their own merit, you need to decide which ones will have the greatest impact on the business. Once you have narrowed those down, you can then decide on the one with the least cost and resources involved.
Implement your solution and review progress
After you have decided on the appropriate solution, you need to assign a project manager who will be responsible for implementing the solution and will be able to hold others accountable for their part of the implementation.
The implementation plan should include project milestones and a launch date for completion.
Once you are done with the implementation, it is time to review the progress and the impact that the solution has made on the business. It’s always a good idea to track the progress of the solution for at least a year after implementation and show pre-implementation and post-implementation results.
Taking the time to work through a problem to identify the root cause, will give you the opportunity to provide a real solution that can get rid of the problem for good, as opposed to a quick fix.
Remember, when trying to find a solution to a problem, use these 4 steps to give you a better chance at really solving it:
- Identify the problem
- Come up with multiple solutions
- Choose the best solution
- Implement your solution and review progress