Avoid Jumping To Solutions At All Costs — May 31, 2022

Avoid Jumping To Solutions At All Costs

You’ve heard the saying, “Don’t jump to conclusions before you have all the facts.” The same can be said about jumping to solutions before getting to the root cause. Somebody raises an issue during a meeting. People immediately jump in with proposed solutions. The best idea wins and the solution is implemented. Issue resolved, right? Only if life were that simple.

When an issue surfaces, it is important to spend time defining exactly what the issue is. Write it down in the form of a Problem Statement: A short description of the current issue and the desired end state you hope to achieve once it is fixed. Then spend some time thinking about the potential root causes of the issue. Use simple techniques like 5 Why’s and Fishbone Diagrams to help you.

Fight against your natural urge to jump straight to proposing solutions and invest more time thinking about the issue and its root causes. It might not be as fun or sexy, but it will make your work and life better and drama-free.

Problem Solving with Perfectionists — June 29, 2021

Problem Solving with Perfectionists

I have a team member who is bright and conscientious. She is the resident expert on our systems and work processes. Most of the time, her approach to solving problems and implementing solutions is spot-on. However, when a solution doesn’t immediately present itself, she can get stuck. Her high need to ‘be the best’ gets in the way of coming up with ‘good enough’ solutions.

This happened in a meeting today. She identified a hurdle in extracting some data to upload into a new system. I felt like there was a solution lurking somewhere in the background and it just had to be flushed out. In the past, I would jump straight into brainstorming mode. I find when I do this she puts up a wall and we make little progress.

Today, I tried something different. I took a more rational approach by breaking the problem down into three distinct parts: filters, date ranges, and data extraction. At each step I asked open-ended questions and tested her assumptions. We got to the root cause of her issue at step 2 and then I was able to brainstorm potential solutions. Less defensive, she was in a better mindset that allowed her to consider each of my ideas and pick the best one.