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Is Your Problem Actually The Problem or a Symptom of the Real Problem?

business growth problem solving

Are you ready to go deep with me? Here's a solution or a process that I found very, very helpful. So often when you encounter a problem, you actually haven't encountered the problem. You encountered the symptom of the problem. And what I mean by that is this think about, say someone's 25 pounds overweight. Well, the 25 pounds of fat is not the problem. It's a symptom of the problem. So what triggered that weight gain? It could be hormonal, it could be attitude, it could be mental. It could be stress could be a lot of things. Those are the problem. So you could go and you can exercise and go on a diet and we'll lose that 25 pounds and then it comes right back. Why? Because you dealt with the symptom of the problem, not the actual problem. So the next time you have a big challenge, really think deeply on this. Is this truly the problem? Or is this a symptom of the actual problem? It's going to save you a lot of time and effort by not dwelling on trying to fix symptoms when the key is you need to solve the problem.


Jeff's Bonus Thoughts:

If you fix a "problem" and but it still occurs, then you actually fixed a "symptom" of the problem. You need to go back and re-think through the problem you are having. Ask yourself, "what am I not seeing?"  Here is an activity that I do when I feel challenged with a problem:

  1. Find a quiet spot, and get a pad of paper (I find paper works better than a phone or laptop). 
  2. Set a 15 minute time. 
  3. Write down a list of anything you think that may be the real problem.  This is a time to brainstorm, don't edit or think about what you are writing down, just write! 
  4. After your time is up, if you need more time, take it! If not, start going through your list and ask yourself the following questions: "Is this the real problem?", "what else could cause this problem?" You are trying to get deeper, to find the actual problem. You may want to consider using Toyota's Five Why's to solve the problem. 
  5. You may need to take some time away from the process to refresh your thinking. This is absolutely fine, and is probably very helpful for you at this time. 
  6. Go back to any of the steps, and start over. The more you do this, the closer you will get to solving the problem. 


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