Top of Mind: Tackle the Right Problems

October 26, 2016 02:22 AM
 
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As this year winds down and your business focus shifts to 2017, you’re likely going to encounter a few obstacles. Which crop will generate profits or limit losses? How much working capital will your lender require? How should you handle your two employees who don’t get along? 

These are not easy problems, and they only scratch the surface of the obstacles before you. Not only will challenges add up next year, but your business is leaner and margins are thinner.

“We are working harder, moving faster and doing more with less than ever before,” says Beryl Loeb, founder and president of Needham, Mass.-based The Loeb Group, a training, coaching and facilitation firm. “We want to make sure we’re actually being smarter, not just faster,” 

To be smarter, Loeb says you have to be strategic and ensure you are solving the right problems. Do so by asking a series of fruitful questions intended to help you get to the heart of an issue:
    1.    What is the problem? How can it be redefined?
    2.    Is it one or multiple problems? Should we break it apart?
    3.    Why is the problem worth solving?
    4.    What and who does the problem impact? What will we gain if we solve the problem?
    5.    Who does the problem impact? Who will benefit from the solution?
    6.    What are barriers or obstacles to solving the problem?
    7.    Are we looking for a Band-Aid or surgery?
    8.    What have we tried before? Why did that effort fail? Could we try again in a different way?
    9.    What have others tried that might work for our problem?
    10.    Who needs to be involved in solving the problem?

These questions often point you to the crux of an issue instead of allowing you to become distracted by corresponding yet less important issues. 

“Very often, it will end up being a different problem that we need to work on,” Loeb explains.

Start Fresh. A new year also brings opportunities for refocusing your goals. Use this as an opportunity to align your business team’s goals and roles, advises Mark Faust, author of “High Growth Levers” and columnist for AgPro, a sister publication of Top Producer. 

“Ironically, most conflict and lack of alignment come from a lack of clarity and agreement on the objectives and roles,” he says. “Get those cleared up and the ultimate team building has occurred.”

This issue features many tactical ways you can prepare and succeed for the years to come. Good luck with your planning. Thank you for reading. 

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