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Stopping to Think

You can’t effectively implement any problem-solving strategies unless you know the problem. Every industry has it’s way of keeping a problem from being solved; moving targets, feature creep, change of scope. It is the fastest way to de-rail or outspend your ability to solve the problems. That’s not saying your problem can’t change but you have to handle things more cyclically–in iterations where you can complete something before you begin something anew.

Evolving Thoughts Lead to More Problems

Most solutions are straight forward.

I have a goal, there are steps required to get that done, do the steps, achieve the goal. Nice and tidy.

One caveat that strikes out at all projects is growing awareness of a real solution, a different solution, due to generally a lack of understanding what was originally needed. This is where good planning and thought is key.

Let’s Build a Pool!

A simple example, build a pool in the backyard.

Without much thinking all I really have to do is go dig out a hole, gloss it with cement, and fill the hole with water. Wow, that’s easy, a weekend project. Right?

Of course, I hope your common sense has activated here tossing out the issues with such logic:

  • what is the grounds composition
  • how do you make a concrete or sealing layer
  • what about draining
  • what about cleaning
  • etc, etc, etc.

Now if you started this project like we have you’ll probably stumble into each and every one of these–and so many more–that you’ll never get the pool built because you keep finding things you should have thought through before.

Problem Solving Strategies Requires Knowing the Problem

Can it be said any simpler? Don’t just jump into solving things without a care as to the steps involved. Think through your problem in a few passes.

  • High-level: overall objectives, outcomes, you’re a rockstar
  • Mid-level: milestones, stepping stones to larger objectives, an idea of the playing field
  • Low-level: runway or the atomic level, the actual steps to complete each piece

David Allen and others are good at saying that if you have a next action that makes you ponder what you’re supposed to be doing then it wasn’t a next action but a cluster of them. Straighten those out until you can see what is really before you. Even if you aren’t qualified to know the steps you know you need to ask someone else who does have the qualifications to know.

You Know the Problem Now Solve for It

Now you can be objective. You see where you want to go and you can track all of the requirements to the next step in front of you. Whether you are building a pool, starting a company, hiring a consultant, initiating a project couldn’t be easier.

If at any time you feel unsure of what you are doing take a moment, close a door, shut off the tv, book it on your calendar–and think well about what you are trying to accomplish. Most of us don’t have the luxury to waste time and money. By giving yourself a little more attention to think through your objectives it will save you both time and money.

What’s your next project? Do you know what it will take to get you there?