Nov 26 2013

We all face problems in our work, how we deal with them differentiates between the successful & unsuccessful people & organisations. One of the keys, arguably THE key to solving problems, is to only work on one at a time. John Maxwell (amongst others I am sure) suggests that we need to line our problems up & then solve them one at a time.

Sure we all think we can multi-task, some more than others. This is not the point here though. What we are suggesting is that the problem (symptom) that you see, is often made up of many smaller problems. By stratifying, drilling down, digging in to a specific aspect of the symptom that we face we can find 1 of the problems that is causing our symptom.

Many of us think of Pareto in this case, the Italian Economist who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. This is arguably one of the simplest ways of dividing out our problems(symptoms) into their constituent parts. Finding the biggest contributor to the symptom, solving that problem, then repeating that process.

Once we have narrowed our symptom down to a single problem, one that we can clearly differentiate from the other aspects of our symptom, it becomes significantly easier to solve that problem.

When we look only at the symptom, the observable aspect of the problem, and attempt to solve it all in 1 go, we will inevitably find many possible causes and often attempt to remove each of them. While this may in the end remove the symptom, what is lacking is the learning, the understanding of the specific links between the root cause & the symptom. This reduces our potential for avoiding such problems in the future.

By solving a single problem, with a single root cause we gain an insight into the linkage between the cause & effect & thus are in a much stronger position going forward to avoid these connections in the future. Reducing the number of problems requiring solving & accelerating our success.


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