The First Step in Solving Your Biggest Problems

 

This is a guest post by Mark Miller. Mark is the best-selling author of six books, an in-demand speaker, and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-Fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture, outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu

 

Take the First Step

I’m guessing much of your life and leadership is devoted to problem-solving.

If you aren’t trying to fix the problems you currently face, you are probably attempting to anticipate, and proactively respond to, problems on the horizon. Maybe the problem you are trying to address is how to continue to fuel your current success – a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Problem-solving is a part of a leader’s ever-present reality.

I’ve been searching for years for ways to make my investment in this critical activity more fruitful. Today I’ll share some practices that have helped make our team’s problem-solving efforts more effective.

Let’s begin our deep dive on the topic with a mistake I’ve personally witnessed thousands of times. Before I share it, brace yourself for a blinding flash of the obvious! Are you ready?

 

“Problem solving is a part of a leader’s ever-present reality.” -Mark Miller

 

Don’t solve for symptoms.

The first step in effective problem-solving is to identify the real problem you are trying to solve. Rarely is the presenting problem the real problem. If employees are not following a procedure, chances are good the problem is not with the employee. In most cases, you have to go upstream to discover the real, or root, cause(s) of the situation.

 

“A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.” -Charles Kettering


The next time you prepare to tackle a problem, unless it’s a fire, slow down. If there is data, look at it. If data is not readily available but can be obtained, get it. If there are people who are closer to the problem than you are, talk to them.

Mark Miller

Work diligently to identify the real problem, and then bring the full force of your collective genius to find a solution.

 

For more information: Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture

 

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