Feb 25 2014

I had an old boss that used to say “do you have 20 years of experience, or 1 year of experience repeated 20 times?” To me the former is good, the latter indicates a lack of learning. Many people try to shortcut the learning when it comes to problem solving. This is why they shouldn’t.

Ever have a problem & just want it to go away? We all do! Ever wonder why we get them? Why we struggle to solve them? There are three benefits of solving problems that are essential to dynamic organisations.

Firstly, we solve the problem, properly at root cause level, so it never comes back. Fantastic! That’s all we want right? Definitely not.

The second benefit is that we want to understand why the problem happened so we can avoid other similar problems, so we can understand more about our systems & processes and where the weaknesses & gaps are.

Proper problem solving requires a deeper exploration into our systems than many people are willing to go, they want to shortcut the learning and only resolve the problem at hand. Why invest time & effort understanding the deeper issue if I can have my solution now?

Sure there are times & cases where this is appropriate, but the second benefit to proper problem solving is the knowledge we gain about our systems, ourselves as system creators & developers, our weaknesses in these areas. Skipping true problem solving skips this benefit, a shortcut to our result.

The third benefit, equally important in dynamic organisations, is our ability to solve problems. By skipping straight to a solution, either by lucky trial & error or by getting someone else to provide the answer means we don’t improve our ability to get to the root of a problem.

The better we get at problem solving, the easier it becomes, the more we think of it as normal practice, the fewer problems we have or at least the fewer we seem to have as it becomes just part of how we operate.

No longer do we need experts to come in and solve problems for us.

No longer do we get stuck on problems for weeks or months on end.

No longer do we look at problems as problems, but as opportunities to exercise our problem solving muscles, making them stronger, better, faster, more able to cope with whatever the economy, marketplace or industry throws at us.

No longer do we try to shortcut to the solution because there is no need, it is just as easy to dig deep to the roots to resolve the problem permanently – because it is just what we do.

Don’t short cut the learning, pay me now or pay me later…solve me fully now, know why, know how or you will be doing so again in the future and you won’t know why or how, so you’ll be repeating that same years’ experience over & over again. Your choice…

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