Solve Business Growth Problems Once and for All
In business, problems are inevitable. No company ever sails smoothly to success. But the faster a business grows, the more it seems as though there is only enough time to find a quick fix for every problem that comes up. When an organization is moving fast and dealing with a daily crush of activity and firefighting, it’s sometimes difficult to slow down and address issues that are critical but don’t seem particularly urgent.
When a problem comes up, you can choose one of two options:
- apply a short-term fix to the symptom, or
- identify and apply a long-term fix to the fundamental issue.
The second option is less appealing to most mangers because it appears to involve more time and work, and may involve having difficult conversations and/or making difficult decisions.
Taking the easy route is costly
Rapidly growing businesses are moving so fast that they get caught up “fixing” (but not resolving) the day-to-day symptoms of a recurring problem. Managing with a quick fix avoids the subjective conversations and difficult decisions that can easily become messy, emotional, and awkward. That’s why so many leaders acknowledge the pain that confusion, high turnover, poor performance, wasted resources, mistakes, and low morale are causing their organizations, yet continue to make only incremental and fleeting improvements at best.
Quick fixes allow problems to fester to the point that they can bring an organization to its knees. Because the real problem isn’t addressed, it gets worse. So even if the problem is eventually treated, the treatment required becomes far more complicated and expensive than if the real problem had been dealt with in the first place.
Quick fixes actually take more time than systematic problem solving. All these patches take time to create and, at some point, you end up wasting even more time cleaning up all the Band-Aids you used to hide the problem for so long.
Repeating a vicious cycle
Because the root cause of the problem is never identified and resolved, the same issues consume larger and larger chunks of management’s time. This superficial problem solving can also create new problems elsewhere in the business.
Organizations that excel at handling these flare-ups avert many potential disasters. But because the root cause is never addressed, the same fires are fought over and over again. Over time, recurring issues become chronic problems.
If half of a company’s sales force is missing its goals, on the surface, this may look like a problem with salespeople. However, the problem may be marketing related and the sales force is simply not able to compensate for poor quality marketing or a lack of sufficient marketing. Or maybe deliveries to customers are chronically late and customer turnover is high. The problem may be low product quality, leading to low customer acceptance. Alternatively, the problem may result from the sales force’s training or a lack of technical sales support. In other words, one problem may be tied to a wide variety of underlying causes.
The financial cost of unresolved problems is undeniable: wasted resources and time, decreased productivity, increased employee turnover, and customer attrition. The money an organization loses as a result of these problems, and the money it has to spend to continually patch them, is staggering.
Solve problems once and for all and move on
If instead of only fixing the symptoms, you look deeper to figure out why the problem is occurring, you can fix the underlying systems and processes that cause the problem. To truly resolve issues, you must view the organization as a system comprised of interrelated parts, each affecting and being affected by the others. This holistic view helps identify the real causes of issues and pinpoint where and how to address them.
Too often leaders think they can break up the system and simply deal with its parts. But an action in one area triggers an action in another and another, and so on. By understanding these interrelationships and tracing back these actions, you can discover where the problem started and how it grew into the issue you’re now facing.
Rip the Band-Aids off and deal with the issues. Problems don’t go away unless the source of the problem is uncovered and resolved.
What problems have you put a superficial Band-Aid on?