Try this Path to Problem Solving this week
It can be confusing. One minute you need to smooth over an upset team member. The next, you need to hit a deadline on a report that is due. You need to jump on a conference call and send out an email to that customer that wants a quick response. You get to Friday and it feels like nothing truly important got done. A month can go by you’re still battling the same issues you did last quarter. What are you supposed to focus on? Is it what the customer wants? Or is it what you promised your team member you would get done? Maybe the most important task is getting that report that was due last week finished and sent out?
It’s easy to say you need to focus on the intersection between what truly matters and that which you can control. It is much harder to pinpoint exactly what those things are and most importantly, to execute them.
Begin with the end in mind by filling in the blanks because it’s important to create clarity before trying to solve any problem you are facing:
- If we get to the end of the year and ________________ is not complete the consequences will be significant to our team or organization.
- If we don’t ____________________________, we will not complete that thing that has such high consequences.
- What we need to do is ___________________________, to make certain we complete that thing.
Try this if you are stuck.
- Am I or are we focusing on things that are not within our control right now and therefore wasting time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere? Do we know what right will look like December 31, 2018?
- What is within our control right now, that we can change, fix, or complete? Do those tasks or issues work towards our goal of what right looks like?
- Is there anything that can be removed from our task list so that we can fully focus on tackling the things that matter most to achieving what right looks like on December 31, 2018?
If all else fails, do this.
- Stop. Really. Just stop. You could be operating from a place of anxiety which will not result in the best outcomes or your highest-level thinking. Take a day to observe what is really happening in yours or others work flow. You could be dealing with a systems issue. If you have time to redo things constantly and fix things that are messed up or done improperly you have time to observe and plan for better outcomes.
- Get a thinking pair. Find someone who will ask you great questions and be curious about what you are doing, how you are doing things, and why you are doing certain things at all. Curiosity is key here. Your thinking pair is not an “expert” but rather a specialist in asking great questions that bring out our highest-level thinking. The answers are there, you may not be seeing them from the perspective you are at.
- Unplug and relax. Sometimes we’ve worn ourselves out trying to solve the same problems over and over again. Our brain needs a break. Take a drive. Go for a walk or run. Turn off your phone, don’t check your email for a few hours, take some nice deep breaths and allow your brain to do its best job possible to solve some of your toughest problems.
Finally, it’s important to remember that competence breeds confidence. You got this!