Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pivoting on People, Process, or Tool.

If you're like me, you're probably sitting on a problem right now. They're all around us. It's a natural occurrence in life.  Now what I'd like to offer you is a simple, yet effective means to problem solve and help you start thinking differently about your approach to problem solving.  And I say, "simple," because as you know the answer to the age old question of "how do you eat an elephant?" is not all at once, but rather a "bite at a time."

Once you realize you have a problem, you're going to size it up determining what's the impact to you and others and start thinking about solutions.  You're going to see if you've experienced a similar problem or if this problem is completely new. (Of course, I like the new problems :) )  You'll also start to think about what it'll cost and how much time you need. You'll also ask yourself, "what will it look like when the problem is solved?" Moreover, problem solving requires Creativity, Communication, Commitment, and Critical thinking --- the 4C's as I like to call them.

Starting to solve a problem is I think the most difficult part. At this point, your canvass is usually quite big with so many options to choose from, so what you can do is pivot on three areas: People, Process, or Tool.  This actually narrows your options very quickly. For example, when your problem deals with People, you can immediately take your problem to the person (s) that is (are) the cause of the problem, even if it might be you. Likewise, when your problem deals with Process, you can immediately review it and see if there are opportunities to make improvements. And when your problem deals with a Tool, you can immediately determine whether to fix, improve, eliminate or substitute it.

When you've identified the area you want to focus on, you will want to set goals and create a plan to solve (or resolve) it. I suggest you have many conversations with people to see what they think about your plan, too. You'll soon see your plan take shape building momentum. Continue then to take action on your plan. If you need additional resources, ask for them within your organization. If you hit a barrier (another problem) rethink your plan and again pivot on People, Process, and Tool. Before long, you'll have a resolution to your problem.   (If you want to know more about planning, then I've written about it in an earlier blog called, "Structures For FulFillment." You can read more about it there.)

In summary, I think problems can be difficult, but problems shouldn't necessarily be seen as a bad thing. As we grow and develop, we're likely to take on bigger problems that are matched up with our skills to solve. If you're not solving a problem matching your current skills, then you might consider taking on a bigger, more complex problem. If you've been tackling a problem for awhile now and haven't come up with a solution, give this approach a try.  See for yourself how quickly you can get past a point where you've been stuck.

Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

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