Dealing with business problems 

Sarah Anne James Willcox

Image of tangled hedge illustrating the Fairisle article Dealing with business problems started

Whether dealing with big intractable business problems or small hard to define ones,

it’s sometimes difficult to work out what to do to resolve them. Even more so when members of your team are working remotely. They may have found it difficult to stay in touch with each other. And some of them aren’t focusing because they spent the morning wrestling with pre-frontal adverbials alongside their 9-year old.

Ask yourself

If you have an idea of the problem in front of you, but no ideas about how to solve it, try leaping to the point in time when the problem has been solved. Ask yourself what will an acceptable solution to this challenge look like?

An example: you’re finding that some members of your team have unrealistic expectations of each other. It’s causing friction in the team and slowing progress on a key project. You might be able to talk to each of them one to one, but it’s difficult to broach this subject in a team meeting without opening up a can of worms. What is an acceptable solution to this problem?

The first step

You want everyone to have a shared understanding of what is realistic – for timelines, for the roles and responsibilities that they have, for the standard of work that should be delivered. Just by doing that, you’ve already identified that you want the discussion to be shared. And keeping it to clearly defined areas (timing, roles, etc) gives a framework for the conversation. The first step to take then, is to find an opportunity to have the conversation. The next would be to use a structure for the discussion (perhaps refreshing the team charter). And so on. Before you know it, you’re half-way there.

Break it down into steps

Thinking about an acceptable solution not only helps break down the steps you need to take, it also:

  • Gives you something to aim for, something you can use to set the course;
  • Gives a deeper understanding of the task in hand for the whole team;
  • Enables you to evaluate progress – completing the steps along the way will tell you whether you are nearly there yet; and
  • Gives you an indication of when you can stop – when you’ve achieved your task as set out in your definition and move on to the next item on the agenda (rather than spend ages finessing things that don’t need finessing).

Get things done

If you’re struggling to get started on a business change, get in touch to see how we can help you explore the challenge and define your next steps.

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