Don’t Stick To The Problem, Work On The Answer

All businesses offer value for money — whether that value comes in the form of a product or a service, that’s how businesses survive. Running a business, on the other hand, is an involved process of  brainstorming, planning, execution, testing, course-correcting, and problem-solving. Nothing ever really goes quite the way it’s plotted out on paper, and dealing with problems is part of the whole thing of having a business of your own.

Many times, it’s not the problems that give you problems, but the getting stuck in the problem-solving that trips you up even worse than ‘the problem.’

Running a business is full of challenges. You deal with customers, deadlines, late payments, marketing, complaints, etc.  You’re responsible for managing the little things and big things while you take the wheel and drive your business to where you’re aiming to go next. And one of the biggest responsibilities is managing and resolving issues. This is where a major part of the stress that business owners face comes from.

Now, the issue hiding in plain sight is that problems have a way of taking over your thinking process— you get stuck in the problem-solving and can’t progress into the taking-action and problem-solved stages.

When it comes to entrepreneurial problem-solving, sometimes the things we learned in science and English classes can help us make the process easier. See, the science teaches us to be methodical: things are connected in ways we don’t usually learn in the course of daily living, but when  we learn these connections, we get to understand how things work. English teaches us that how we use languages can influence people and the way we think.  In the same vein, how we  state a problem  can point us in the direction of the solution, or keep us stuck.

Related article: Is It A Problem Or A Challenge?

Analysis paralysis.
When this happens, you’ve become trapped in details. You’re unable to make a reasoned decision since you’re sunk in the cross-roads quicksand of having too many options open. You get pushed into the thicket of too many ‘What-if”s’ and can’t get free.

Maybe you got over-ridden?  
Emotions can get in the way of seeing clearly, or being calm enough to prioritize. For example:  think of the word “budget.” Depending on what you’ve associated with the word in the past, you can react negatively, neutrally, or positively.  How you feel can put you in a place where you  can’t make a rational decision because you’re tied up in knots.

Maybe you’re looking at the details from the wrong angle?
You get too invested in hammering out just-exactlies — just exactly how did the problem happen? What exactly can you do to help it from happening again –which is a good question for another time, but what are you doing to solve it now?

Antidotes to paralysis.
Pick a point, and just start. When we are beset by an overload of options, the best way to get the brain to restart and focus again is to start somewhere –anywhere– and let the action take over.

Walk away and do something physical to get out of the bad head space.
Oxygenation helps in clearing the mind — deep breathing exercise, a short walk at a swift pace — or even picking a few flights of stairs to go up and down on. When you’re mentally stuck, the act of physically going places can pull you away from the rut you fell into.

Get a timer, sit down with pen and paper.
Set it for 4 minutes. Start the timer, and write out all the things you can think of to solve the problem. Once the timer dings, the pen goes down, and you have 2 minutes to start with anything on the list you can do immediately.

Start at the end — pretend you solved the problem, and trace the steps back to see how it ‘happened.’ Jigger your linear thinking a bit so the problem can be solved.

If you’re hindered by a history of choking on execution – here’s what you can do moving forward:

Compile your case histories.
When you solve an important business issue, write about it. Seriously. Write about it.

  • Clarify what the issue cost you and its effect on the business.

Write down what it cost to the business to have the problem, then write down how you resolved it.

  • Give the context:  what was your thinking process — specify the people or resources tapped, and actions taken.

Take note of the time it took from start to finish.
Write down what you learned.
Write down what you are doing to ensure the problem won’t  happen again.

The issue is not problem-solving too much — it’s that we can be so pressed for time and so pressured to produce, we go from one emergency to another without learning from what we did . This is like putting but fires and not looking back to see if they’re fully out, and that what caused them has been taken care of.

Making case studies helps in the following ways:

  • It cements the actions you took and the way you thought your way out of the issue.
  • It serves a record to refer to. if you’re not around,  people can tap the case report to see what you did and treat it as starting point or suggestion — anything they do to solve a similar issue can be added on as supplementals (but let them do their own write up.)
  • When you’re feeling low and out of sorts — in the stills where nothing’s done– you can check your record to see you did good and this is just a stall.

Make a list of the issues you solved so you accumulate a list of the wins you made. It’s hard running a business. Discouragement is common, and such a list can be a lifeline when you’re heart-sore and exhausted from seeing the actions you took that aren’t working out, or all the stuff you still have yet to do.

These few tips help you can help you in ways that go beyond dealing with analysis paralysis or ‘the slumps.’ Focusing on finding the answer instead of getting fixated on the problem helps reroute your mindset and orient it towards solutions, and in life, as well as business, such a positive mindset can only be an asset.

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