Arjun Singh Rathore
If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it. -Albert Einstein
Most of us are talented at excusing personal habits as trivial idiosyncrasies or minor infractions. Yet, they can come together to form a clear picture of who we are in the eyes of others. We all spend a lot of our time solving issues out of no issue, both at work and in our personal lives. Most of the imaginary issues are small, and we quickly sort them out ourselves. But in some cases we make these issues so complex that it has to indulge into collaboration, creativity, and a considerable amount of effort to solve.
Winging is the biggest of the issue, it’s assuming we’re so smart or experienced that we don’t need to prepare for a presentation. It starts out innocently. We run out of time and decide to wing it. Before long, it’s a habit. By then, we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re getting by with it. Don’t kid yourself. Everyone knows customers, prospects, co-workers, and the boss.
Which of us can resist the temptation of being thought indispensable? Thinking that we’re indispensable also leads to crop the issues from nowhere. When leaving to take a new job or even at the time of transfers within the organization, some want to think they’re leaving a hole that can’t be filled. But, as Dene Ward notes in Medium’s The Ascent, “The reality is that every organization can survive a departure, unless you are a sole proprietor.” But wise Managers/ Professionals feel much better to leave a legacy of quality performance and training a capable replacement.
No matter the task or assignment or how much pressure is put on some people, they’re still late, even though they may be bright, capable workers. So missing deadlines can also lead to raise the issues even from the most professional brains. A better way is to establish credibility by being on time and then speaking up.
Saying YES but without any intension of doing it is a good way to get off the hook for the moment, but it comes back to bite us, giving birth to issues which otherwise have never born. In the workplace, it’s called task avoidance, but I address them shirkers. Yet, it doesn’t solve a problem, it only delays facing it, creating doubt and undermining personal trust. Even though it may be stressful, many people repeat it throughout their work lives.
Communication is the most commonly required skill but not taking time to communicate effectively sometimes also leads to issues which otherwise are irrelevant in the contest of smooth running of relations.
Not being aware of what’s going on around us also creates issues which otherwise are always around us. We all see what we want to see and filter out anything that doesn’t fit the picture of ourselves. An employer tells of a 20-year key worker who cried when told the company was closing, even though the information she worked with every day contained obvious clues. She couldn’t see them. This is why questioning our thoughts and ideas helps improve awareness.
A goal without a plan is just a wish, and we all know what that means. Not having a plan for your futures can crop the issues which could be resolved in a better way, if addressed in time. The devil is in the details so think twice before believing it when told, “Don’t worry about it. It’s all standard boilerplate. Just sign here.” So signing contracts without reading them or having a trusted person review them, will definitely end up with the issues which could have been killed if we have not ignored details in any documentation.
Some claim procrastinating makes them more creative. They may be on to something, since the subconscious mind has more time to do its work. Perhaps, but it’s also true that quality output doesn’t occur with the first pass or initial draft. It requires extra time, for review, additional thought, reworking, and polishing. If that isn’t enough, last minute leaves no room for something going wrong. This is also when we hear the excuse, “I didn’t have enough time.” So to avoid such unwarranted issues to crop up, it is better not to leave until the last minute.
At work, the types of genuine issues we face depend largely on the organizations we’re in and the jobs we do. A manager in a cleaning company, for example, might spend their day untangling staffing issues, resolving client complaints, and sorting out problems with equipment and supplies. An aircraft designer, on the other hand, might be grappling with a problem about aerodynamics, or trying to work out why a new safety feature isn’t working. Meanwhile, a politician might be exploring solutions to racial injustice or climate change.
The first step in solving an issue is understanding what that issue actually is. You need to be sure that you’re dealing with the real issue – not its symptoms. For example, if performance in your department is substandard, you might think that the problem lies with the individuals submitting work. However, if you look a bit deeper, the real issue might be a general lack of training, or an unreasonable workload across the team.
However, defining an issue doesn’t mean deciding how to solve it straightaway. It’s important to look at the issue from a variety of perspectives. If you commit yourself too early, you can end up with a short-sighted solution. As you define your problem, you’ll often discover just how complicated it is. There are likely several interrelated issues involved. That’s why it’s important to have ways to visualize, simplify and make sense of this tangled mess!
When you understand the issue in front of you, you’re ready to start solving it. With your definition to guide you, you can generate several possible solutions, choose the best one, and then put it into action. There are various problem-solving styles to use. For example:
* Simplex, which involves an eight-stage process: identify the issue, fact finding, defining the issue, idea finding, selecting and evaluating, planning, selling the idea, and acting. They create a cycle of problem finding and solving that will continually improve your organization;
* Constructive Controversy is a way of widening perspectives and energizing discussions;
* Inductive Reasoning makes the most of people’s experiences and know-how, and can speed up solution finding;
* Means-End Analysis can bring extra clarity to your thinking, and kick-start the process of implementing solutions;
* Appreciative Inquiry, which is a uniquely positive way of solving problems by examining what’s working well in the areas surrounding them;
* Soft System Methodology, which takes you through a couple of steps to uncover more details about what’s creating your problem, and then define actions that will improve the situation.
Whatever issues we face, there are some common ways to tackle them effectively. And we can all boost our confidence and ability to succeed by building a strong set of problem-solving skills.
Mind Tools offers a large collection of resources to help you escape and ensure resolution to issues cropping out of no issues!
(The author is Executive Manager & Branch Head at JK Bank Canal Road, Jammu)
Arjun Singh Rathore