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Think Solutions, Not Problems

Mike McKinley

I have a client that has used me as a resource for well over 15 years. A few weeks ago, I was making one of my 2-day visits and we were going to spend most of the day in a round-table discussion with their managers.

At the meeting, the general manager brought along several flip chart pages from two years ago. The handwriting on the charts was mine and the points made were the same points that the business was facing that day.

Mike McKinley
It was a rude awakening. Implementation and follow-up were lacking. The group is great at doing the day-to-day work but needed better group problem-solving skills, strategic focus, and a way of tracking progress over the long term.

We shifted gears. The biggest shift was from a single-person problem-solving environment to a group-focused solution-driven culture. Progress won't be easy, but while I was there we had some discussion about test cases and people got excited about the outcome.

Perhaps it's time for you to look back a couple of years to see if you still have the same set of problems now that you had previously identified. Have you analyzed your work processes? Maybe it's time to make sure your work-process decisions are solution driven versus reaction driven.

When you are tackling a problem, here are some tips and reminders for problem solving:

  • Search for the real problem.
  • Check to see that all the players are involved.
  • View the problem as positively as possible.
  • Write down the information you know and the information you need to find out in order to find the best solution.
  • Consider any and all resources for solution.
  • Determine the timeline for steps to the solution.
  • Decide who will make sure the solution sticks.
  • Evaluate whether this is a quick fix or a long-term solution.

Some things I learned the hard way. In my programs, I call them McKinley's Memories. Here are a few regarding problem solving:

  • Specific problem solving can be instantaneous or it can be drawn out.
  • Leadership allowing and encouraging problem solving to happen by all involved parties is imperative.
  • Solving one problem often creates another problem.
  • If there are no problems, there is no business.

Michael McKinley, CSP, CPAE, is a professional speaker who builds and delivers personalized presentations on business topics for corporations and professional associations.
Like to know more about Mike?

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