If You Can’t Solve the Problem, Manage It

| Published by Mark Akerley under Newsletters |

Opportunities and challenges abound for business leaders. Finance, operations, people, sales and marketing are all dynamic issues requiring constant management attention; some more than others depending upon circumstances. However, all too often we see major issues, the really tough ones, being avoided by the business chief because he or she can’t seem to find a simple or clear solution. Unfortunately, this issue avoidance leads to unfulfilled expectations, causing a great deal of frustration and disappointment, which in turn leads to even more avoidance and unresolved issues – a vicious cycle. Sound familiar? If so, here are a few simple tips to keep in mind so you can steer clear of this vicious cycle.

Accept reality.

Let’s face it. Sometimes reality stinks. But in running an operation or business, the brutal truth is that some problems can’t be solved. They can only be managed. That means you have to understand and play the cards you are dealt. Wishing things were different (a lack of focus) is a complete waste of two of your most precious assets, your time and your energy. Now that doesn’t mean you have to accept second best, absolutely not. It simply means you have to clearly identify the limitations and imperfections of your environment and then determine how to best work within it. To do so, first identify what you think you can’t do and ask yourself why and if your answer is based on fact or speculation. If speculation, you have some more questions to ask – be brutally honest. Second, identify what you can do and find ways to produce similar actions – think quantity. Third, take personal accountability for making the condition better even if you can’t resolve it now – blaming anyone or anything else is merely sticking your head in the sand.

Progress Not Perfection.

Silver bullets and magic wands don’t exist in business, none that work anyway. Most significant challenges and opportunities are complex or at least multifaceted and require a methodical approach for resolution. For example, a methodical approach that may not resolve your problem immediately, but will get you moving towards resolution quickly can be accomplished in four steps. One, make a checklist of the specific actions you can take regarding the problem. Two, solicit input from others regarding your checklist. Three, prioritize your action list and set dates for execution of each item. Four, focus on completing one item at a time before moving onto the next.

Take Action.

Managing is a contact sport and therefore requires a good deal of action. If your issue is significant though not resolvable in the short term, you still need to address it with specific actions so you can build momentum for future resolution. Once you’ve determined what you can do based upon the steps listed above, it’s time to execute. Decide to take some form of action today, tomorrow, next week and next month. Take action relentlessly regardless of the size and impact of the action and you will soon transform that un-resolvable problem into a very manageable situation.


Sigma Resource Group, Inc 521 S. La Grange Rd. Suite 206 La Grange, IL 60525 | T:708.354.4673