In order to see invisible opportunities and solve seemingly impossible problems, one of my favorite strategies is Problem Skipping. Every business has problems—some larger than others. Often when trying to “fix” a tough problem, the company gets even more mired in the challenge and can’t get past the roadblock. A better solution to solving those tough problems is to just skip them. That’s right, skip the problem completely. When you confront your roadblock by leaping over it rather than having it stop you from reaching your goals, you see new solutions you never knew existed.
Realize that this strategy is very different from procrastination or avoidance, because it is based on recognizing what the problem really is and making a conscious decision to find a way to move forward instead of being blocked by what you think the problem is. Here are some simple steps you can use to skip your problem.
Your problem isn’t the real problem. Often, you can’t see the real problem because you’re blinded by what you perceive is the problem. By skipping what you perceive as the problem, you are free to discover the real problem. Therefore, forget about what you think is the problem. If that problem simply didn’t exist, what would you see in your company? Now the real problem (and solutions) can surface.
Peel the onion. Think of your problem as the top layer of an onion. To find the problem, you need to peel it back by listing the components of the problem to see if you are working on the correct issue. Often you’ll find that the core issue you’re focusing on isn’t the one that’s causing the most pain, but that a sub-issue is truly at the heart of your problem.
Think in terms of opposites. Sometimes, the opposite of what you perceive is the problem is really your solution. For example, if your problem is “saving money,” what’s the opposite of that? Spending money. So instead of focusing on how you can save money, try focusing on your company’s spending. When you focus on the spending and alter your company’s spending habits, the “saving money” solution becomes evident.
Look at technology for help. Today’s technology offers a wealth of options for solving numerous problems. Can’t find a good typist for your company? How about using dictation software? Need a way to get more ideas for products or services? Use the Internet to connect to customers via online surveys. Look at what you need done and find a technology solution to automate it for you.
Focus on one problem at a time. Sometimes a problem is complex and has many components working against you all at once. In fact, many problems are made up of multiple problems. You’ll be better able to see the real problem (the one you should focus on) when you separate the other problems.
Ultimately, every problem has a solution. By asking yourself if you can skip the problem completely, you free your mind to look beyond the roadblock. That is where both the real problem and the best solution lies.