The problem with the problem is... - [website] Email Print
Published: 20th of Feb 2017 by: Debbie Engelbrecht CEO

Last night whilst watching a reality TV show where an analyst is called in to assist a struggling hotel it again became apparent how easy it is for outsiders to see the problem from a different perspective and easily identify some of the issues we simply do not see from the inside.

We sometimes simply get stuck in the same refrain.

I see this at some of my clients and even at social occasions. The problem simply becomes a talking point, the song we sing to give voice to our emotions. Sometimes we sing it only because those specific words are the words that stuck in our minds…And that is the problem with the problem. It tends to becomes all-encompassing, the entire song.

In essence, we can move ahead much faster if we recognise that the problem is simply a verse and not the entire composition. We can include bridges, riffs and choruses, there are allegros and crescendos to choose from a plethora of octaves and notes and any combination of instruments we can use to give us a fuller musical experience.

Were I to belabor this point any more, I am sure that you would notice that I was getting stuck too!

With structured problem solving we are able to move through a balanced analysis of the desired outcome, a root cause analysis of the problem, analysis of viable alternative approaches and a way forward quite quickly. We can free up the music inside of us and come into this world dancing with abandon.

The challenge is that not many people naturally have such a structured approach. The good news is that it can be learnt.

One of the better known problem solving techniques is that of Edward De Bono known as the De Bono 6 Hat Thinking technique.

Simply put each hat has a colour and each colour illustrates the type of thinking that should take place in that particular phase of problem analysis. For example: The yellow hat looks at the positive aspects, the black hat analysis the negative etc.

I personally like using the Polarity Map as a tool to give me a full picture of the paradox or dilemma and with this well-rounded picture in front of me it ensures that I can keep the balance and see all aspects of the situation before taking the next action.

So the biggest problem with the problem, I guess, is that we seldom take the time out to find the combination of tools that will help us sort the problem out elegantly and efficiently. And normally that is because we are listening to songs chosen for us by others, as opposed to putting together our own playlist.

Staff Training presents more than 60 short courses nationwide. Contact us at or 0861 996 660.

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