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A problem named, is a problem halved

A problem named, is a problem halved

Nicola Hopes

29 November 2022

Problems. They’re like buses - they seem to come in 3s.

And it’s harder to deal with 3 niggly problems than one big one that you can sink your teeth into.

At the moment, we’re not lacking sources for problems. Financial. Business. Economic. Political. Humanitarian. I’m tired just thinking about it!

But don’t panic, we’ll get those 3 key problems solved in no time.

Pour yourself a comforting cuppa ready for the next tool in your autumn / winter toolkit.

I call it: A problem named, is a problem halved

Are you frustrating yourself with not solving challenges quickly enough? Do you seem to be juggling too many at one time?

The issue might be you don’t really know what the problem is.

Sounds daft? Stay with me.

Do any of these sound familiar?

• The team just aren’t gelling
• We’re not making progress on that project quickly enough
• We’re not coming up with any new ideas
• We need to manage costs, but I’m not sure how

Q: What do those statements all have in common?
A: You’re not stating the actual problem.

You’re tackling the symptom. Not the cause.

And when you don’t have the cause, you can’t take action.

Name it

Really get under the hood of the problem by:

• Observing the behaviours you’re seeing and when they change
• Reviewing documentation e.g. project reports; team objectives
• Asking those involved specifically what the issue or outcome is, how they’re feeling and what’s going on
• Reflecting on when things were better and why they were better
• Asking yourself what’s missing

Finally, you see the wood for the trees and the real problem starts to present itself.

And, more importantly, you can solve it. For example:

‘The team just aren’t gelling’ could mean they:

• Aren’t clear enough on their roles, so are treading on each other’s toes
• Aren’t clear enough on the team purpose so they’re directionless
• Feel insecure so they’re competing, rather than supporting each other
• Don’t know each other’s strengths and the basis for collaboration

‘We’re not making progress on that project quickly enough’ could mean the:

• Benefits aren’t clear, so we aren’t focussing on the right things
• Team don’t have time to do it, so we need to find the space
• Expectations aren’t clear – you want it yesterday, but they don’t know
• Project has hit a blocker that needs to be removed

‘We need to manage costs, but I’m not sure how’ could be about:

• Increasing the gap between what we spend and what we bring in
• Reducing money leaving the organisation to 3rd parties
• Reducing bureaucracy and allowing teams to be more efficient

Those are statements you can act on. 

Those are problems you can solve.

A challenge you can use as a basis for new thinking. For lessons for the future.

And more importantly, you’ll be solving the problem you really need to solve.

So, what are those 3 key problems that are niggling away at you? And what’s the root cause? Once you name it, you’re halfway to solving it.

I can’t wait to hear what barriers to brilliance you’ve kicked out of your way.

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