Are You Solving the Right Problem?

Steve August
November 2, 2020
Real-Life Leadership
5 Rules for Rocket Ships

Too often, we are presented with a situation, and our instinct is to leap into action and solve it.

Here’s an example. One of my clients is looking to aggressively grow their marketplace business. The first and most obvious thought was to boost marketing and get more leads into the top of the funnel.

But as they dug into the situation, they realized the real problem was that they couldn’t onboard the leads they already had coming in fast enough.

The right problem to solve was not at the top of the funnel, it was at the middle. In fact, trying to add more leads would have only made the problem worse.

So they added more customer success reps to speed up onboarding and are now positioned to take on more scale when they are ready to ramp up marketing.

There are three things to consider in trying to figure out if you are solving the right problem:

  1. Never let anyone define a problem for you. As a Founder and leader in your company, people will come to you with a problem. The temptation is to snap into action and help them solve the problem as presented. Take a breath or two and get curious about the problem. Is it a symptom or a root cause problem? Is there actually a bigger or better problem to solve than the one presented?

  2. Ask "what would prevent the problem from ever happening again?" If you find yourself solving the same problem over and over, you need to go deeper and solve the challenge so it stays permanently fixed. This will likely mean more time and effort up front, but the long term benefits will pay off many times over.

  3. Firewall problem definition and solution development. Rather than trying to figure out the problem and solve it in the same conversation or session, split them up. Dedicate one session purely to identifying the right problem to solve. Then the next session can be focused on solutions, knowing you’re actually solving the right problem.

There is definitely a slow down to go fast mentality that flies in the face of our fast twitch react-and-respond world.

But when you think about it, the organizations that win don’t solve the most problems, they solve the right ones.

Until next time,


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