I have a child with off and on constipation issues. I know, I know. I talk about poop too often. I promise there is a point. Also, I have boys. They are 4 and 6. Poop is a common topic of conversation. (Fellow parents, are you with me?!)
Recently, the issue was severe enough that we checked in with the pediatrician to see what else we could do to solve the problem.
The visit included the usual advice:
- Pay attention to diet.
- Use something drastic to get the pipes moving again.
- And…set a schedule for consistency. It doesn’t matter if the act is successful or not, reward the consistent effort.
We also learned that with chronic issues, it can take several months for things to get fully back to normal.
It struck me how well these same tips apply to most of the common challenges we face in life and in our work.
We can use these ideas for broad solutions across most areas of life, not solely bodily functions.
Five keys to problem solving
1. Pay attention to input.
Are the inputs helping or hurting the problem? Do you need to include additional people in a conversation or decision-making process? Are there too many people involved? Do you have the right information? Are you asking the right questions?
Having the right inputs can make a project infinitely easier. The wrong inputs can make a project impossible to complete.
2. Take extreme measures to reset when you’ve got an acute problem.
For many challenges, baby steps make enough of a difference. But sometimes we need to use extreme measures to hit reset. This is one reason crash diets are so popular.
In your work, do you need to stop doing something (or multiple somethings) completely to give focus to a priority? Or completely change the team working on a problem?
Maybe the solution is a completely new process, system or tool.
Extreme measures can feel risky, but have potential for big payoff.
3. Be consistent. Build a habit.
Whether the solution is a drastic change or baby steps, be consistent in your implementation of the new approach. If it’s something time bound, set a timer or calendar reminder.
You can also consider finding a trigger action. For example, one trigger could be that after every meeting, you send out meeting notes immediately.
4. When the outcome is out of your control, reward the effort. (When needed, bribe.)
There are times that no matter how much effort we put in, the outcome is our of our control. In those instances, consistent effort and habit creation is worth rewarding.
Ultimately, consistent execution of the right actions will produce results.
5. Recognize that lasting change takes time.
While consistent application of be right action produces results, there’s no guarantee those results will come quickly. It’s important to recognize that lasting change takes time.
By rewarding consistent action, you ensure that you stick with it long enough to produce results.
Applying these simple ideas as a framework for problem solving can immediately improve your success rate.
What challenge are you facing today? Which idea will you implement? Try one (or more!) of these ideas out. Then email me and let me know how it went!