When it comes to dealing with problems, or to be politically correct, challenges, we’ve all heard the tired old motivational clichés like: “Turn your lemons into lemonade” or “You can’t unscramble eggs but you can make a terrific omelet.” Somehow those clichés don’t seem to get the job done when it comes to finding real solutions to what are often real problems.
The reality is that standard problem solving often stifles innovative thinking and/or creative decision-making. As business owners or managers, we’re expected to fix a problem quickly so we can get back to business as usual. And, we usually do.
The Problem With Problem Solving
When we just focus on fixing the problem so we can get back to business, we overlook the opportunity to innovate – and possibly come up with a solution that could take our (broken) process to another level of improved productivity.
I would argue that it might not be all that beneficial to restore the status quo. The clients I work with in my consulting practice are often struggling with standard operating procedures that are absolutely not moving the organization forward. Standard operating procedures do what they’re supposed to do – maintain a standard – even if that standard is no longer a viable way to do business.
A Better Plan
The next time a problem raises it’s ugly head, which will probably happen in the not too distant future, instead of just trying to fix the problem and restore the status quo, look for innovative ways to resolve the issue and improve the standard that currently exists.
Innovation enables you to see the potential of a problem. It allows you to see the problem through a different lens. By definition, innovation means to make changes in something already established by introducing new methods, ideas or products.
Managers, why not start establishing the expectation that innovative, creative problem -solving is what will be recognized and rewarded? Instead of putting the emphasis on putting out the fire and getting back to work, look for a better process, system or a different policy. In today’s marketplace, just fixing problems without finding ways to raise the bar – will all but guarantee mediocrity.
So… Don’t Fix – Innovate, and watch how quickly performance and productivity improve.