Charles F. Kettering, an American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents, was a founder of Delco and head of research at General Motors from 1920 to 1947. With a resume like that he no doubt knew a fair amount about problem solving, hence his quote, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved”.
It’s Not the Problem, It’s the Symptom
Many times in our businesses we’re not sure what the real problems are. I’ve seen many a client come up with solutions to what are really symptoms rather than problems.
And when you treat the symptoms, the underlying problem doesn’t go away; it festers.
Focusing on the Symptom
Just the other day, a potential client called asking for financial expertise. He wanted to know if his business was flush enough to afford another employee. The problem in his mind was financial; he wanted someone to look at the numbers and tell him if he could afford another employee. If he could add to his staff, then that would take the pressure off of him. Problem solved, right?
Upon closer examination, the true problem wasn’t that he needed another employee. Rather, it was that the business was too dependent on him. He felt that the business was consuming his life. There was no balance between his professional and personal life. That is the problem clearly stated and the identification of it alone can do worlds for him and his business.
State the Problem, the Real Problem
Before a sound decision may be made, the problem itself must first be clearly stated. By understanding the real problem and finding a solution for that problem, the business owner may go down a different path than he expected. By understanding the true problem, and not just its symptoms, he is setting himself up to find the best solution in half the time and take a vacation to boot!
Are you ready to identify your businesses real problems? Do you have a strategy for doing so?