You Need to Discover New Ways of Thinking and Defining Problems
You may have heard the story about the group of people who were blindfolded, then taken over to an elephant and asked what they thought it was. As they crowded around the elephant, each person described it based on the particular part they could feel. Even though they were all accurately describing the element they were close to, they did not have a clear picture of the whole animal.
Problems in any area of life are like that – including business problems. We see the problem from our own perspective, and we feel it’s effects, but we can’t see all round it. In addition, we’re also often caught up in an emotional response to the existence of the problem in itself.
We’re often just like the people with blindfolds on who were confronted by the elephant when it comes to problem-solving. We see one part from one perspective. Often, that perspective is the reason the problem exists in the first place.
For example, Jim struggled to get his employees to arrive at work on time. He called me and invited me to help him solve this problem. As he described the problem, people were always arriving late, shifting deadlines, making excuses, and generally not acting responsibly.
We arranged to meet at a café at 8am to discuss the situation before heading into the office. At 8:10am he called to tell me he was running late and would be there in 5 minutes. At 8:45am he received a message on his phone from Sam, his accountant: “See you in fifteen minutes.” A quick check on his calendar revealed that he was double booked.
I looked at him as I stood up to leave. “I’ve just solved your problem, Jim. Your staff members may have a problem. You most certainly do, and I’m willing to bet they’re just following your example. Until you sort out your disorganisation, I don’t think you can ask much of your staff.”
Jim did not have a clue that he had a problem until I pointed it out to him. Even worse, as long as he was misdiagnosing the problem, he didn’t have a hope of solving it. When we met the following week, he looked at everything from a completely different perspective.
Calling a consultant or coach doesn’t have to be your first step in finding a solution. You can start to identify the problem yourself using the steps that follow.