I don’t like dealing with business problems any more than anyone else. If I had my way completely, I would simply dispose of them, but that’s kind of messy. Besides not all obstacles can be extirpated. Some are best dealt with in more subtle ways using a little finesse.
I think my dad told me…
“If I can’t solve a problem directly, I try to go around it, and if I can’t go around it, I try to get under it, and if I can’t get under it, I try to go over it, and if I can’t go over it, I just plow right through it.”
That’s the philosophy I like to use and here is how to do it:
- First, ask yourself if the obstacle can be ignored. Remember Pareto who reminds us eighty percent of the business problems you face will go away the moment you stop paying attention to them. It’s the twenty percent you need to worry about and pay attention to.
- With the twenty percent you have to deal with, see if you can get past the obstacle by using your wits. If you can accomplish the same goal by using cleverness and guile instead of brute force, why not? I offer a great technique below.
- If you can’t get over, under, or around the obstacle, stand up to it directly. This won’t be easy, particularly if you are not used to confrontation—but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Often this is where I find most of my real opportunities.
Thomas Jefferson had a similar idea about how to handle difficult situations. He put it this way…
“Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.”
How be your own consultant.
I mentioned this is the second bullet point above. It is the best way I know of to address most business problems.
This is a very effective way to deal with the 20% of your business problems that don’t seem to resolve themselves and don’t require immediate and direct action.
The only things you need are a problem to work on, a pad of paper, a pencil, and a quiet place to sit.
- Begin by listing, as rapidly as you can, all the ordinary and obvious possible solutions, even those you know in your heart won’t succeed.
- Then draw up a second, shorter list of more innovative ideas. Try to come up with at least two or three. You want to think outside the box to the extent you can for this.
- Finally, select the idea that seems best and list its strengths and weaknesses. I like to divide my paper into half with the strengths on the left and the weaknesses with the idea on the right. It’s a simple way to qualify your potential solution’s efficacy.
The whole process shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
Once you have finished, take action right away.
Frankly, if you commit to using this technique at least one time per week, you’ll be amazed at how good you get at it.
Then, whenever a major challenge comes along, you are all set with a new and powerful technique.