Friday, November 14, 2014

Quick Thoughts on Centered Problem Solving, Part 1

Sometimes a quick thought is all you need to get moving on that problem. Sometimes pondering a quick reflection can spark another idea. And sometimes, it's just fun (and necessary) to keep things short.

Here are some brief thoughts on centered problem solving. Some have been tweeted by me, and some appear here for the first time.

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Some problems are mostly a misunderstanding. Check to see if you truly share a common understanding of the situation.

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If you see it as a problem, then it is a problem.

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It takes more than an hour to solve a truly entrenched problem.

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Solving problems will give you energy and motivation -- oh yes, and then the problem is gone.

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Sometimes problem solving is accelerated change management.

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Problems require us to advance our knowledge and expand our training.

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You may not be able to solve a problem and yet can still turn it into a positive experience.

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Learning better ways to solve problems creates a sense of satisfaction that is unique and liberating.

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Centered problem solving is about making strong, informed decisions.

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There is no one magic problem solving formula but there are many useful ones. It just depends on the problem.

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Each problem solved can be a step toward fulfilling our mission.

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When others discourage you from solving your problem it just means that they don't yet fully understand its importance.


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Every problem is a test of character.

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Every problem is a reason to improve.

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Sometimes people define you by how you solve problems.

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Your problems are not waiting for solutions -- they may be perfectly happy tormenting you. Solving your problems is up to you.

-- Douglas Brent Smith



Test The Data

Are you analytic? Do you dig deep into the data of a problem to find the root cause?

Even those of us who embrace analysis can forget that the data may be flawed. It may reflect an undetected perspective. It may even be  compromised with an agenda.

No matter what the data says (and it's easy to miss this when we really like what the data says) it is important to check it for accuracy. Test it.

Successful centered problem solvers embrace the data but test it carefully.

Maybe it's true, maybe it's useful -- but maybe it's not.

Who do you have checking your data?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Solve Without Creating New Problems

Is your solution symptom-free? Can you solve that pesky problem without creating a new problem?

We do not solve our problems by creating problems for other people.

As tempting as that may sometimes be, solutions that create problems for other people eventually create problems for us as well.

Besides, is that how you'd like to build a reputation? Probably not.

Be careful about solutions that push the problem down the line.

If the problem is not gone, it's still your problem.

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Turn Your Problem Into A Positive Experience

What if you can't solve a problem? Are you doomed to negative experiences from an unsolvable problem?

You may not be able to solve a problem and yet can still turn it into a positive experience.

Where do the positives originate?

- Better, deeper conversations
- More honest, open relationships
- Stronger, sharper skills
- A wealth of experience
- Wisdom that only problem solving builds (even if the problem isn't solved)
- Humility
- Motivation to innovate

What other positives have you experienced in an otherwise frustrating problem solving attempt?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Advance Your Learning

How is your growth cycle going? Are you learning the skills it takes to solve the problems you encounter -- and will encounter in the future?

Problems require us to advance our knowledge and expand our training.

What's your next area for training?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Monday, November 3, 2014

Check Your Design

Could your problem be in the design?

Broken processes, faulty products, short-sighted services...all of these and more can sometimes be the fault of poor design. To fix a problem, we should consider the design as part of our analysis.

A problem embedded in the design can be hard to spot if we take the design for granted.

It helps to look at the design with fresh eyes. Ask an outsider to assess the usefulness and friendliness of your design. Test it against expectations.

While it can be frustrating to think that a problem may have been baked in from the beginning, very often that's the case. It's not too late. Look at the design now.

-- Douglas Brent Smith