Problems come in all sizes and shapes.
So do potential solutions.
Even Easter could be considered an ideal case study of the application of an effective long-term solution to a universally pervasive problem.
Now rarely do our problems ever rise to this level, though.
Some might say they never do.
But I’m not so sure.
None of us are immune from the pain of loss, estrangement, and broken dreams.
Fortunately, most of our problems fit within our individual capacities to resolve them.
Be they –
• caring for our loved ones
• managing our finances
• monitoring our health
• and promoting the purpose of our schools
Surprisingly, at least three times a year, I actually succeed in making progress in all four areas on the same day.
(Just don’t ask for proof.)
It’s clear the key to effective problem-solving involves the proper identification of the problem PRIOR to rolling out any proposed solution.
You’ll probably won’t be shocked to find out the the proper identification of a problem is firmly anchored in two essentials: truth and trust.
Sure, I wish the two essentials needed were high-speed internet and an iPhone7.
That make everything easier and more fun.
I saw a study in the Harvard Business Review which covered how a hotel leadership team tackled a problem with their elevators.
They had a big problem.
Guests had expressed dissatisfaction with the “slowness” of the elevators and it was translating into a negative marks on their check-out surveys.
Knowing how we all value our time even more so today, the hotel leaders knew they had to come up with a whiz-bang solution.
The perception of slow elevators was definitely an unacceptable reality.
The hotel leaders began pulling facts and figures together.
They knew they had a safe and dependable elevator system, one which exceeded industry standards and codes.
But they wanted to know what it would cost to improve, replace, update, or add to their current elevator system.
They were solidly committed to eliminating the complaints of their guests.
But as you can imagine, they found out that upgrading or replacing the elevators would cost A LOT.
As they were wrestling with this, one of their team members went to a conference at another hotel for a few days.
Just for the heck of it, she timed the elevators at the conference hotel and watched the behavior of its guests.
When she noted the conference hotel’s elevators actually ran slower than her own hotel’s and that the guests she saw seemed to have no complaints, she was confused.
But not for long – because she dug a little deeper.
She took the conference hotel’s elevators from floor to floor, up and down.
Finally she experienced her “ah-ha” moment and spotted the reason.
The conference hotel offered attractive visuals (and large mirrors!) by every elevator waiting area and also inside of the elevators themselves.
People were given a variety of distractions to minimize their mental “elevator wait times.”
And just like every school communicator I know, she “swiped” this idea and took it back to her own hotel… and boom.
The complaints about slow elevators fell right away – at a mere fraction of the cost attached to any of the alternative solutions.
This seems like a ridiculously common situation to make it into the Harvard Business Review, doesn’t it?
(It does to me.)
But the HBR authors wanted to emphasize the point about the importance of problem identification.
They say most of us are prone to jumping into solutions without taking the time to honestly push for clarity about what could be the source of the problem in the first place.
Makes sense to me.
I’m all for discussion, deep-diving, and striving for more clarity.
But I don’t get much practice, especially at home.
Somehow Cindy and the girls always identify ME as the source of nearly every problem.
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