Problem Solve the Right Way

October 21, 2021

As an owner or manager of a small business or SME, there will always be problems that need to be handled. Certainly, during these times of continued uncertainty due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners and managers must know how to solve an immediate problem. Many times, the solution is a quick reaction without forethought or thinking about potential future implications. Perhaps, the decision is a good one...perhaps not so good.

Component Parts of a Problem

Simple problems may have simple solutions. Frequently, however, business problems involve many factors that should be considered if a permanent remedy is to emerge. All of the component parts of a problem must be reviewed separately and analyzed through a logical process of reasoning.

•    What happened?
•    What caused this to happen?
•    Could it have been prevented?
•    What was the result of this happening?

Most likely, there will be something known about the problem before any investigation takes place (this is old information). After a thorough investigation, new information will be revealed. After all relevant questions are answered combining the old information with the new information, significant conclusions can be drawn.

Benefits of Component Problem Solving

There are several benefits to using the component approach to problem solving:

•    Clarity is gained about the problem and possible solutions.
•    Spontaneous, irrational, and emotional decisions are avoided.
•    The probability of success can be interpreted more accurately.

Analytical Thinking

The phrases "analytical thinking" and "problem solving" are often used interchangeably; however, there are differences. Analytical thinking is the breaking down of bits of information. The terminology is used especially in the context of deciphering large amounts of numerical data.

Analytical thinking also tries to create a cause-and-effect relationship between when something occurs and its result. This type of thinking uses facts to support conclusions rather than using opinions on which to base conclusions. Analytical thinking and problem solving go hand-in-hand.

Importance for a Business

Regardless of the type business, how it is organized, where it is located, or how long it has been in existence, there will always be some type of problem that needs to be solved. Hopefully, for the sake of the business, serious problem situations necessitating much time and effort will be infrequent, and small problem occurrences can be resolved rather quickly.

Effective problem solving, however, is an essential characteristic to operate an efficient business that is capable of growing into a long-term sustainable and successful entity. Rather than making a quick, irrational decision when a problem arises, the perceptive business owner or manager is one who understands the benefits of processing facts and figures before making a decision that could possibly produce even more negative outcomes as opposed to producing wanted positive outcomes.

Success or Failure

The way business issues are handled often makes the difference between success and failure. It is not only how a current problem or issue is handled, but also how the same or similar problems or issues can be prevented from recurring in the future. Problem solving should not be viewed as an isolated situation, but viewed with the understanding that problem solving is a continuous business process. Actual problems might differ (which they should if handled properly in the first place), but new problems will always be developing, as old previous problems are resolved. So, problem solving is a process:

•    Operational issues arise
•    Investigation and analysis take place
•    Conclusions are drawn
•    Problem solving alternatives are selected
•    Decisions made
•    New issues arise
•    Process repeats itself

What Needs Work First

Understanding that multiple problems might occur at the same time, it is important for management of a business to accept the fact that all problems cannot realistically be solved immediately although this would certainly be the optimum solution. The best course of action is to review all problem situations that need attention, identify problems causing the greatest financial impact on the business and those most disruptive to the business, and these are the problems to work on first.


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