Whether you’re leading a startup or a large enterprise, one thing that will always be in your path is the “unexpected”. It doesn’t matter how thorough you were during business mapping, planning, or forecasting, business challenges are bound to occur now and then. Business Problem Solving
Therefore, it goes without saying that every entrepreneur must have a dedicated contingency plan in place to ensure that the company functions smoothly even during rainy days. Let’s move ahead to understand what exactly is the art of problem-solving and how you can leverage it to accomplish excellence?
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Why Is Problem Solving Important for Businesses?
What sets apart a great leader from average ones is the ability to solve critical problems with sound reasoning. Problem-solving skills help entrepreneurs resolve pressing issues as well as business conflicts. Not just that, problem-solving allows you to apply a unique approach to an array of business challenges and problems that once seemed completely wrangled.
It further allows you to deduce the root cause of the problems, quickly mitigate the interruptions, plan for long-term contingencies and keep your cool while facing the challenges. Being a successful leader doesn’t mean your business shouldn’t have any problems. Rather, it means that you should be in a position to mitigate and solve challenges as they arise.
Now that we recognize that problem-solving is the game-changer, it’s time to move ahead and explore five steps that help you cater to business problems just right:
Conduct SWOT Analysis:
One of the foremost steps in effective business problem-solving is identifying, analyzing, and describing the problem. We all have heard the famous quote- “You can’t hit what you can’t see”. The same is true for your business strategies as well. You can’t solve a problem if you can not fully comprehend it. Hence, until you’re able to describe the problem, you won’t be able to go all the way to its root cause! How can you take a hard look at yourself as a company? Leverage SWOT analysis.
SWOT, an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats, is one of the most popular techniques used by companies of all scales for effective auditing and analysis of their business’s strategic position. As a manager or business owner, you can leverage ready-made PowerPoint templates such as fishbone diagram template for brainstorming during your SWOT analysis sessions. If done right, SWOT analysis can provide a clear picture to leaders about their business operations and enable them to stop whatever wrong they are doing and transition the company towards success.
Define the Challenges Clearly:
Now that you’ve jotted down a list of challenges you must cater to, the next step is to clearly and lucidly define those problems. Since a problem well stated is a problem half solved, the ability to clearly define problems is one of the critical skills for any business leader. Rather than jumping straight away to find a solution to your problem, a leader must decipher the challenge first. Often managers fail to reach the root cause of certain business challenges and create superficial strategies which look exemplary in the fine print but fail to deliver on the ground.
For example, if the sales from a new client take a hit, a majority of companies might rush into creating a marketing plan to enhance brand exposure just to drive up the sales numbers. Now, this might work momentarily, but it certainly does not address why the sales deteriorated in the first place. While evaluating a problem, managers must look at it from different angles. Analyze your competition, check the sustainability of your business model, see how external world events are affecting your sales, etc.
Take Inputs of Internal Stakeholders:
Another vital step in effective business problem-solving is taking inputs from your internal stakeholders. There is no denying that you have the bigger picture in mind! However, your teams are the ones who operate on the ground and witness everything on a granular level. Your employees are more likely to have better knowledge and visibility on these matters. Having an engaging brainstorming meeting with your team can help you accumulate valuable insights, make all stakeholders a worthy party and make a sound decision that is beneficial to everybody.
Involving your teams in the decision-making process doesn’t mean that you have to surrender to consensus. Managers are far less likely to evaluate a problem and cast out a creative solution if the only aim is to dismiss the problem and avoid any conflicts. Rather managers must make the team a worthy participant in the process and foster an environment where ideas come out as a result of sound dialogue and have the potential to contribute to business success.
Avoid One Single Solution:
The issue with one single solution to a business problem is cognitive bias. When there is only one idea, we often spend most of the resources on making it work rather than looking at the possibility to explore far more efficient approaches. In other words, we become passionate about a single solution which hinders the ability to pay attention to opposing arguments. Therefore, to find the best possible solution and disrupt the market at the same time, you ought to go beyond the most obvious way.
Multiple solutions to a problem are distinctive and have their own meaning. The approach leads to the accumulation of ideas that are innovative, never-seen-before in the market, and might have the potential to disrupt. Managers can leverage a multi-disciplinary team to generate multiple ideas via a healthy exchange of thoughts and knowledge. To generate more than one solution managers must wear different hats and look at the same problem but from different perspectives.
Track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
Now that you’ve implemented an out-of-the-box solution out of many. It’s time to make sure it’s catering to the challenges just right. How do you check that? Simple, you can achieve that through effective KPI tracking. KPI or Key Performance Indicators reporting is a go-to destination for management professionals to keep a check on their company’s or project’s performance. KPIs let you fairly measure the results, reaffirm business goals, discover issues in the business strategy, and align marketing & sales efforts.
For instance, while solving a Sales & Marketing pipeline problem managers can consider tracking key performance indicators such as Cost per Lead (CPL), Conversion Rate, Return on Investment (ROI), Click-Through Rate, Bounce Rates, and much more. Managers can also transition these KPIs into SMART goals for their teams to follow. After investing some time into the strategy, you can easily comprehend whether it’s working for your company or not. Hence, managers can zero down to an approach that works and solve the problem more efficiently than ever.
The End Line:
Gone are the days when you could follow a fixed problem-solving plan and sail through the rainy days. As we transition deep into the technology-driven 21st century, the competition & business challenges are more fierce than ever. The above steps can help you optimize the way you approach business problems, tweak your business strategies, and accomplish triumph.