Seven Steps For Solving Business Problems

I'm a marketer for a very large company, and it has a problem—a very big problem. First, we have issues getting the right data and insights to our customers due to disparate systems and clunky data. To compound the problems, we don't consistently collect data on our customers. It's a problem big enough to make me insane.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we're sharing key ways to break down your big problems into smaller parts, so you can solve them, from professional speaker Mitzi Perdue. By viewing your issues through this prism, you can focus intently on solving the problem through a series of steps instead of preparing to tackle it all at once.

1. Describe the Problem: Do this in writing. Often, you'll find that simply explaining the whole problem to yourself will cause you to see the solution. If that doesn't happen, go on to Step 2.

2. Break the Problem into Smaller, More Manageable Parts: List the parts of the problem; breaking the problem down into manageable parts makes it less intimidating. If one item on the list still seems too difficult, break it down still further. Then arrange your list in a logical order according to what needs to be done first.

3. Write Down the Obstacles: This step may come as a surprise, but it's important. Take a clear, hard look at what the obstacles are and then list them. Being optimistic is a good thing, but no matter how positively you think about a problem, you'll improve your odds of success if you pay attention to and prepare for the likely obstacles.

4. Brainstorm Possible Solutions: Write down as many solutions as you can. Be as creative as you can be. At this point, your goal is quantity not quality. Don't refrain from writing down an idea just because it seems stupid or irrelevant. Often what seems like a bad idea can spark your imagination in ways that lead to good ideas. These new ideas can turn out to be highly creative ones that might never have occurred to you otherwise. You'd be surprised how often this happens.

5. Stretch To Find One More Solution: Ideas that come when you've had to stretch for them often turn out to be the most useful of all. There's a reason: in many cases, if the answer were easy or obvious, it would already have been done by now. It' s when you stretch to get a new idea that you come up with the most creative ideas—the ones that not everyone has already thought of. The most creative, least obvious solutions may have the best chance of solving your problem.

6. Pick the Best Solution: When you've gotten as far as you can with the brainstorming aspect of problem-solving, it's time to put on your realist's hat. Remember, it's a different mindset at this point. Your job is to figure out, of all the ideas you've come up with, which is the best? What solution or solutions best combine: a) Solving the problem; b) Getting the job done on time; and c) Having the resources available to accomplish it.

7. Act On It: Surprisingly often, people may come up with a good solution, but they don't "pull the trigger." That is, they procrastinate when it comes to implementing the idea. Successful people, in contrast, have a penchant for action. They are not only good at thinking of solutions; they're very good at plunging in and doing them. They know that the problem isn't solved until the plan is put into action and completed.

Try these seven key steps to breakdown and solve your next big problems.

Source: Mitzi Perdue is a celebrated speaker, businesswoman and author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. A cum laude graduate from Harvard University and holder of an MPA from George Washington University, Perdue draws from her direct experiences in two long-lasting family enterprises to assist businesses in preparing for lifelong success. She is a past president of the 35,000-member American Agri-Women, a former syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard and the founder of CERES Farms.

filed under August 2018
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