The world around us can, at times, be filled with things that we classify as a problem.
A blocked drain is clearly a problem, because the extended existence of a blocked drain can lead to other issues that will require things like expensive cleaning and bad smells.
Other things that are classified as problems, are possibly less clearly identifiable as a problem.
Poor cash flow generation can be a very serious problem, but it is only really a problem if the business is highly geared. The more short-term debt that a business has, the more intense a problem a shortage of cash flow becomes.
So in this example, what then is the problem?
- Is it the slow cash flow issue, or the debt?
- Both the slow cash flow and the debt?
- Both of these things and a whole bunch of other issues?
- Neither of these things, but something of higher-order that you are not considering to be a problem?
- Which one of these issues is then more of a problem than the rest?
Problems are clearly problematic.
It's easy to be seduced by the first problem that you identify and straight away jump into action solving that, but that might not be the best problem to tackle.
Neutrally it might not resolve the issue; worst case scenario it actually makes the situation worse.
Problem solving requires a logical strategy, and that process starts by asking a lot of questions of the problem.
By spending time exploring the problem thoroughly, seeing it from multiple points of view, getting the opinions of a diverse range of people - you are able to more effectively map the problem out.
It's a bit like being a detective who is investigating a crime scene.
You go in asking a lot of questions and keeping an open mind. An investigation takes time and it's best to reserve judgement until you have gathered as much evidence as you can to assess what is going on more accurately.
All is not as it appears at first and sometimes the most innocent looking suspect is the one holding the smoking gun.