As a business leader, you get hit with many issues. They can be annoying and downright frustrating – especially when they get in the way of your “real” work. But dealing with issues is just a natural part of leadership. They’re problems that we get paid to solve. All businesses have them. The key is being able to recognize them early and having the tools to get rid of them – forever!
Most healthy companies resolve issues quickly. They simply set them up and systematically knock them down. The process becomes second nature and part of their culture.
Regardless of methodology, there are three key steps to systematically solving problems:
As obvious as it seems, many leaders overlook the first step. But often the stated issue is just a symptom of the real problem.
For example, let’s say your director of operations points out the following “issue” during your weekly management meeting: “Our raw material costs have increased 10 percent over the last eight months, reducing our profit margins by 5 percent.”
Sounds like a solid issue, right? However, after digging deeper it becomes apparent the real issue is that your company has no process in place to get competitive bids for key materials. Now that you’ve identified the real issue, you’re no longer addressing symptoms; you’re directly addressing the problem, and the solution becomes simple (though not always easy).
In this case, the solution is to put a process in place to send out competitive bid requests for all major raw materials.
Of course, none of this works unless you add the other two components – i.e., an open, honest culture and consistent weekly meetings dedicated to solving problems.
When you put all this together, it’s easier to shift your thinking from “not another issue!” to “it’s just an issue!”
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