How should you face problems as a smaller business?
Many smaller businesses are faced with varying problems and obstacles which may feel incredibly overwhelming or stressful and near impossible to overcome. However, a lot of these issues can be easily resolved via means which may seem obvious once learnt; it's just that the obvious isn't always so obvious. The biggest hurdle businesses face when tackling problems is that each different problem needs to be approached in differing ways. For example, an actual problem with the business's product/service will not be approached in the same way that a problem within the environment of the workspace itself would be. Below are just a couple examples of techniques I have personally learnt to be incredibly useful to a business, for both resolving an issue as well as preventing them from occurring in the first place.
Root cause analysis
One of the most effective ways that I have learnt to tackle any arisen problem is through root cause analysis. One of the biggest traps that people fall into when they are faced with a problem is that they simply ask theirselves “what is the problem” and then once they have their answer they resolve it. This does not solve the root issue though, this is only a temporary solution for a problem that will repeat itself.
Root cause analysis resolves this by taking the problem and delving deeper into the real root cause of the problem at hand. One of the best and most effective ways to do this is by implementing the “five whys”.
This technique is a problem-solving method that explores the underlying cause and effect of particular problems by repeatedly asking “why?”, with each answer forming the basis of the following question. This is much more efficient for solving problems because instead of just patching up the problem in front of you, you are diving deeper into the actual cause of the problem which enables you to instead resolve the root cause which tends to be much simpler, as well as preventing the issue from occurring again.
Of course, this is not the only approach to root cause analysis, there are many other methods/techniques that I have learnt to dissect a problem and get to the real issue at hand. Another of my personal favourites are Ishikawa diagrams as they allow you to see the problem and its causes clearly laid out in front of you and decipher which of these is the root issue.
An incredibly important part to any business is ensuring that a sense of psychological safety is built within your company. This is something that anybody who is asked about will acknowledge as an obviously essential and integral part of any workspace but it is also something that is often forgotten about, or looked over, entirely because the obvious isn’t so obvious.
In an environment without a sense of psychological safety many more serious problems may go unreported out of fear of being punished or humiliated for speaking up about any questions or concerns people may have, which in turn will lead to even more problems being created. This is just one reason why establishing an environment where psychological safety is enabled leads to the prevention of many problems before they are even created.
However, creating this environment is a lot larger of a task then just understanding the concept of it, and that’s where the key differences between companies who grasp this concept and companies that don’t become apparent. In extremely simple terms it’s largely about framing the work as a learning problem and less of an execution problem as well as an encouragement to acknowledge your own fallibility.
The majority of the time the biggest problems people have when it comes to facing issues is that they are simply unaware of the ways in which they should be tackling the specific issue that is in front of them. This is why once the issue has been overcome and you look back at the solution it all just seems like such an obvious answer. The thing that you have to understand and learn is how to take a step back and look at the issue in front of you in a different ways, maybe via one of the means above or via another technique I haven't covered, which will then enable you to see the obvious solution much more easily saving you a lot of time and hassle.
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