Tag Archives: problem solving

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second thoughts

Are Second Thoughts Just Part Of The Decision?

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You’re facing a big decision. You feel like you’ve decided. Suddenly you have some second thoughts. Is this a bad sign?

Some people suggest that there are always second thoughts about the marriage, if not by the couple, by the onlookers.

It is also true for the home buyer, the new car purchase, or while you wait after ordering from the menu.

People often view second thoughts as the beginning of a wrong decision. What if second thoughts are merely part of the process?

You can analyze many different angles about second thoughts. You can bring confidence into the equation and with that comes past experiences or even ignorance. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

Have you agonized enough? Thought it through, over and over again? Listed the pros and cons, yet still feel uncertainty?

Second Thoughts

Making the best choice often comes down to belief. Do you belief in the path in front of you? For employee teams, do they believe?

One of the greatest challenges of leadership is to develop a belief in the followers. It is not trying to develop a belief in the leader, it is about trying to develop a belief in the follower. Big difference.

Things will always change. A decision to leave your home without an umbrella can turn out the wrong way later within the same day.

When you make decisions in the present, or for the future, you’ve made the best decision you can make.

At that time, at the exact moment, it often is the right decision. Sometimes later, after things have changed, it is easy to suggest it was a poor decision.

Second thoughts shouldn’t always occur. They also shouldn’t always be dismissed.

Second thoughts are often a test that you’re still on the right path.

In life and in business every day is a fluid experience. Things ebb and flow.

Maybe it really means that you’re heading in the right direction.

Keep going.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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persistent commitment

Persistent Commitment Is Not About Time

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At least not directly. Persistent commitment emphasizes the value of the journey, and in most cases, it shouldn’t alter the destination. Assumptions that it takes a long-time shouldn’t weaken the focus. In fact, it may serve to strengthen it.

Destinations are often connected to hurdles, problems, and cannot happen within the moment. It is often why people fail to reach them.

The business or organization you work for has a journey and a destination. The same may be said about your career.

Destination Focused

In hospitality businesses, people sometimes refer to their operation as a destination location. The restaurant outside of town may have to be a destination location.

In these scenarios, it’s important to be persistent in providing the ambiance that draws people to you. Successful operations focus more than just food.

Whether you are problem-solving for your business or planning your career, staying persistent, and being committed matters.

Identifying that the journey may be long shouldn’t alter the commitment.

A career is considered to be comprised of many years. Yet, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be focused, committed, and taking action towards the destination every day.

Some good things take time. It’s true.

Persistent Commitment

Time shouldn’t be confused with weakening or lessening the commitment. It doesn’t mean you should just cruise, lose your focus, or wait on the perfect time.

Feeling that it’s taking too long to get to your destination may make you settle for something less. Not because you can’t get there. Perhaps because the feeling connected with the journey to reach your destination makes you less committed to the requirements of the goal.

It happens for people with diets, exercise routines, and managing personal finances. It may be the cause of business failures or connected with the frustration of navigating your career.

Bottom line, it shouldn’t.

It just shouldn’t happen.

Stay persistent and be committed.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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problem solving blame

Problem Solving Blame and the Root Cause

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Knowing the problem and the solution are two different things. Getting to the root cause is often another stumbling block. How are you managing problem solving blame?

This coffee tastes terrible. It must be the brand.

I tried their website. It must be down.

My house plant died. I guess I forgot to water it.

It’s easy to make assumptions. In many cases we label that problem solving.

Many people take great pride in their ability to solve problems in the workplace or in even in their everyday lives.

Problem solving skills are valuable and make a significant difference for quality, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Problem Assumptions

Are the assumptions ever wrong?

Certainly, they are.

Getting the solution to the problem correct is critical. Getting to the root cause, well, that is also critical.

There are lots of reasons for bad coffee. Too long sitting on the burner, too strong, too weak, or perhaps something that was added. The brand may be perfectly fine.

A down website doesn’t mean it is a bad design, it also doesn’t mean that it is not working for everyone. Could be the connection, your browser, or even your own connectivity.

House plants sometimes die. A lack of water may not be the only reason. Throwing your arms up and suggesting that you aren’t good with plants may be an excuse.

When you problem solve, who or what gets blamed?

Problem Solving Blame

While we recognize that circumstances and situations will vary. We should also recognize that solutions and blame are not always connected or accurate.

If your cell phone didn’t charge overnight, is it the phone, the battery, the charger, the outlet, or was there a power outage? Was the cable appropriately plugged in?

Did someone else unplug it?

Getting to the root cause will matter. It may also take some time, some testing, and having a little more patience.

Before you make your next guess about who or what to blame, consider the importance of resolution. Stop blaming and solve it at the root.

Isn’t that what everyone wants?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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meetings solve problems

Meetings Solve Problems, Or Don’t They?

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Should your meetings solve problems? It may depend on the type of meeting, but many meetings have some component designed around solving problems.

Some meetings are informational. Presenters deliver information. The information delivered is probably organized around solving a problem.

Some meetings are strategic. They attempt to organize the process of planning, creating vision, and improving an organizations competitive edge. No strategy, or poor strategy is a big problem.

Some meetings are task oriented. A committee leads, guides, and steers the direction of the group. Their challenge, or problem, is often ensuring the continuation of the cause or charter.

There are many other classifications or variations of meetings. Most meetings are intended to solve problems.

Reason for a Meeting

Each day decisions are being made by team members. Each day new problems arise. The rise of a new problem, and often it is quickly solved. A process so common many professionals take for granted the act of problem solving.

The problem that makes it to the meeting is different. There are many variations, considerations, or people affected so the calculation on solving it drags on.

Big problems are big problems because they aren’t easily solved. In some cases, attempts are made to solve them, only to see them repeat or continue.

Root cause analysis matters. It matters because addressing a problem with solutions that are not at the root means the problem will continue.

Is that a reason for the meeting?

Meetings Solve Problems

Do your meetings seem to focus around the same problem over and over again? Perhaps it is because of a lack of critical thinking, root cause analysis, or patterns of inappropriate interventions.

Usually the only problems that hit the meeting are the ones that are tough to solve. Everything else has already been taken care of.

Make your meetings count, it is why you’ve assembled in the first place. Meetings that count, have a plan.

The next time you attend bring a proposed solution for every problem you plan to present.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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repetitive workplace problems

Repetitive Workplace Problems and Solving Them

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Problems always exist. In part, that is why we have supervisors and managers. Are you suffering from repetitive workplace problems?

One aspect of leadership is that sometimes supervisors and managers think that they shouldn’t have any problems. The view is that more advanced roles are the luxurious ones. A place to get comfortable, relax, and enjoy.

In you don’t realize it by now, that is a myth in most organizations.

Repetitive problems probably exist because they are hard to solve.

Hard to Solve

Hard to solve doesn’t mean impossible to solve. It does probably mean that the solutions aren’t obvious, aren’t easy, or require additional risk.

Most problems are quickly addressed through experience or theory. People learn to spot resolutions based on previous similar scenarios. They apply their knowledge and expertise and the problem gets resolved.

We solve lots of problems every day. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing it. Yet, the lingering or repetitive problem nags at us.

Repetitive Workplace Problems

You attend the meeting, intending to solve a problem. The team gets sidetracked, the discussion becomes about obstacles, hurdles, and why things won’t work.

Maybe the problem definition is not clear. Maybe you can’t seem to get to the root cause, or perhaps you need more data or information before applying your expertise.

Don’t procrastinate about the problem. It is likely going to require some risk.

Get to the root cause.

If you don’t solve the problem at the root, it may repeat. When you don’t clearly understand the problem, it may continue.

When you get to the root and are willing to get a little uncomfortable and risky, you may discover a new path to problem resolution.

Otherwise, you may stay stuck.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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problem fixers

Problem Fixers Are Proud Contributors, 10 Questions

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Are you in the group of problem fixers? Problem fixers are important but are they stuck in the mode of tactical assault or productive for the team?

Many workplace employees take great pride in being a problem solver. In fact, they may boast that they spend their day fighting the metaphorical fires.

Problem solving is a good and important skill but is it the answer for strategic momentum?

Unlikely.

Problem Fixers

I still remember the CEO of a group I was working with several years saying in a brainstorming session that, “We’re too big to fail. We have too much history and too much momentum to ever worry about that.” (Yes, he was serious and, yes, this did actually happen.)

Things changed for that organization on a dime about 18 months later. I’ll spare the details but it got really messy fast.

That same group took great pride in the concept that they were expert problem solvers and often spent their days tackling whatever problem popped up at the moment.

They were problem fixers.

Strategic Questions to Ask

Absolutely, problem solving skills are something that every person, especially leadership team members, need. However, when you don’t really have a strategy and you’re only executing tactically, you probably are headed for some problems you didn’t expect to find yourself trying to solve.

The questions you need to ask are the ones that are often hard to answer.

Teams should consider questions like:

  1. How long has this problem existed?
  2. Are we trying to fix the problem at the root?
  3. Are there similar problems popping up and we aren’t even aware?
  4. What is this problem costing us?
  5. Are these problems hurting our brand, image, and customers?
  6. What are we overlooking?
  7. Is this problem unique to our organization?
  8. What is this problem costing in productivity and efficiency loss?
  9. What is the specific challenge about this problem?
  10. Is the problem causing other problems?

Perhaps the best way to solve problems is to incorporate strategy so that the problem is eliminated and will not happen again. Drama filled problems or problems not solved at the root create an endless cycle of firefighting.

Be proud that you can solve problems but execute strategy every day. Firefighting is a tactical approach that should be used in emergencies.

If your day is filled with emergencies you probably aren’t being strategic.

-DEG

Small non-profits to large for-profits, do you want to think differently about strategy? Contact me to start a discussion.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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meeting problems

A Problem with Meeting Problems

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There are a lot of reasons why meetings are held. Sometimes it is about ensuring a message is heard and understood. In other cases, it is about problem solving. Are meeting problems bringing you down?

When you look to the task force, the committee, or the project management update there is a direct objective in mind. Objectives should be connected to goals, metrics, and measurement.

Picking Low-Hanging Fruit

Part of the meeting then is about calling out the goals and objectives and gathering updates about status and measurements. Items that are deficient or not yet completed are open for discussion.

People may bring excuses or try to cast blame, yet often, many problems are being solved each day. The difficult reality is that the tough problems tend to linger. If they were easy to solve, they probably would have been solved by now.

Instead of a meeting about updates, you may be having a meeting about the challenges, the hard parts, or the sticking points.

Procrastination often leads to doing the simplest tasks first. It is a form of picking the low-hanging fruit.

Meeting Problems

Better may be to address the toughest parts up front.

A tough part broken down into smaller pieces is of course easier to manage and creates a sense of progress and accomplishment. Instead, often, the tough part is set aside. It is not broken down into smaller pieces. It’s just waiting.

Waiting on problems to fix themselves sometimes happens, yet for most of our workplace challenges this seldom occurs.

A problem that isn’t going to get fixed easily is often more about the assumed depth, energy required, or collaboration effort than it is about its size.

Meeting problems are often tough because the easy parts are nearly always tackled first. If you want to improve the efficiency of the meeting come prepared to tackled the big problems in smaller pieces.

Old news, yet, have you considered the flow of your meetings?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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managing problems

Managing Problems and Your Job Description?

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Does your job description include managing problems? For many, this is an assumption. A presumed duty and competency requirement.

There seems to be two schools to navigating workplace problems.

Which School?

The first school of thought is, managing problems is our job. As a supervisor, manager, or other workplace leader, we solve problems.

Having a strong awareness to solve problems can be a good thing. However, like anything, too much may be too much.

Are you spending your day fighting fires? Are you proud to be able to fix and solve almost anything? Being a good problem solver is great and something to be proud of. At the same time, always tactically fighting fires does not give the operation time to be strategic.

Another school of thought is that problems are not my problem. Some workplace leaders believe that problems are a distraction and that they shouldn’t have any. Theoretically, you can see how they may come to that conclusion. In reality, problem solving is always going to be part of their job.

Managing Problems

The best leaders are striking a balance between the tactical approaches of problem solving and deploying strategy. They understand that solving problems matters and is important, yet at the same time strategy will make a difference for better future positioning.

Is problem solving an assumption in your job description or does it literally exist? In either case your ability to solve problems may be a big part of why you have the job.

Never assume that problems are something you shouldn’t have.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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finding solutions

Finding Solutions To Problems We Shouldn’t Have

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One problem for many managers is that they believe they shouldn’t have any. Finding solutions to problems comes with the territory. How would you rate your ability to find solutions?

Most workplace problems, the ones that are still a problem, exist because they aren’t easily solved. If they were, they would be solved by now.

We’ve all probably heard that when you learn from mistakes, and in the future do it differently you’ve found some value in the misfortune. It is a good argument and good advice.

Once Upon a Time

When we learned to ride a bike, we made some mistakes. We learned to balance, pedal, and lean into the turns.

Taking the math exam probably unveiled some problems. Things like accuracy, trying to solve the problems the quickest. Hurrying because you don’t want to be last. Sometimes even our own handwriting caused errors.

We had to learn to slow down, budget our time appropriately, and reflect on our own work.

Later in life we started to learn more about navigating situations that involved people. We learned about sharing, caring, and listening more to understand instead of just respond.

Most of what we’ve done has included problem solving. Hits and misses, mistakes made, and changes put in place, then we try again.

Life can wear us down. In grade school we probably proclaimed “not fair.” Then an adult adjusted for fairness. Was that fair, or just another twist to the dilemma?

Finding Solutions

Finding solutions isn’t always easy.

As a workplace leader, regardless of title, position, or organizational position, we may accept that finding solutions is part of our job.

The solution may be learning a new way to balance, pedaling different to save energy, and leaning just right into the curves.

Solutions may involve accuracy, patience, and organizational skills.

We may have to navigate differently. Listen more, learn something new, and change habits.

If someone suggested it would be easy, they were wrong.

That is the great thing about leading. You find a way, or you invent one.

Problems are just invitation to get started. They are opportunities in disguise.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Anchored Decisions and Getting Unstuck

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Do you make anchored decisions? As people we often consciously or subconsciously make decisions based on data. The data that we develop trust in, belief, and view as reliable might be the exact thing that keeps us stuck.

Anchored decisions

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting in a nearby coffee shop that also operates a drive-through service for coffee, doughnuts, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches. While sipping your favorite morning beverage you observe many cars using the drive through service.

Next imagine that a friend enters the same coffee shop where you are sitting. Your friend tells you that the drive through service is jammed with cars every morning and then asks, “Guess how many cars pass through before 10:00 AM?”

Before you can answer, your friend says, “Normally around 350!”

Since you’re business minded (you are, right?) you start thinking about the average purchase per car. You consider a cup of coffee, a doughnut, bagel, or sandwich, some will buy more, some less, and sometimes there is more than one person per car. You establish a simple estimate of $10.00.

The coffee shop opens at 6:00 AM and your friend told you 350 (the anchor) cars pass through. You’ve estimated $10.00 per car and when you do the math you get $3,500.00 of drive through business by 10:00AM. Does this seem reasonable?

Anchored Decisions

How we make decisions, personally or professionally is often impacted by the data set that we observe, read about, or look up on the web. It might also be influenced by word-of-mouth, a sign, or an advertisement. The data might be very accurate or the data might be unreliable.

Imagine the scenario just presented only this time imagine that the real number of cars passing through is closer to 150. So the drive through is only bringing in, on average, around $1,500.00 of revenue during this period of time. This is a significant difference, it is $2,000.00 less!

So what does all of this mean to you?

It’s quite simple actually. As a living breathing, walking, talking, and thinking human being you make anchored decisions. You do it, and I do it, everybody does it.

Anchoring Applied

Imagine you get a new corporate account in your sales job. You look up the history of the account and you discover that last year they purchased $100,000.00 worth of product. What are they going to purchase this year? What is your best guess and you must give an answer.

Chances are good you’ll anchor to that $100k and you might guess $110k, or maybe go big with $125k. You goal becomes to sell them $125k, but perhaps in reality they might have the potential to be a $500k account. You’re going to miss out on a lot of business.

Now imagine this, you hear that the average dinner for two in your hometown costs $45.00, you hear that the average family of four spends $180.00 per week at the local grocery market, and the average price of a new pair of shoes is $75.00.

What will you spend when going out to eat or going shopping? What will you anchor to? Certainly you would likely base your estimates on the averages, and this of course seems reasonable, but what if it isn’t?

Get Unstuck

Anchored decisions often represent the way people (or businesses) become stuck. They limit their thinking, they use the data set, they listen to what others suggest or recommend.

What are the limits for you personally? Are you average, or slightly better? Where do you want to be? What is the data?

If you own a business, what was your revenue last year? What numbers are competitors turning in each year? How much can you sell or how much can you earn?

If you are a supervisor, manager, or other professional that is charged with leading in your organization how are you anchoring your department or team? Are you stuck with the same numbers or other data?

When you consider the anchors we might use, you just might realize how you got stuck.

Get unstuck.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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