3 Easy Steps to Fix a Problem: Define, Adjust, Repeat

Every person who owns a business has to struggle with many problems that come along their way. Not every person who leads a team knows how to tackle the issues or challenges they face. Sometimes, some even fail while trying to overcome their challenges.

However, to become successful in the business world, it’s very important to be good at solving problems and also to be able to figure out which problems are the most important to solve. The skill of making the right decision to prioritize the right problem to work on first helps solve problems effectively. To have this skill, you must know the two important tools you can use at your disposal, one is solving the problems, whereas another is picking the right problem to solve. Both tools are necessary for building a successful business for yourself.

Every successful business owner uses a certain method to solve recurring problems. It consists of three important steps: defining the problem clearly, making a plan to solve it, and then actually taking steps to make the solution happen.

Although this might sound simple and easy here, it is very difficult while you are doing it practically. Both big and small businesses sometimes spend a lot of time and use a lot of resources following these steps, only to later realize that they should have been working on a different problem from the beginning.

Make the problems more straightforward to get better solutions

How can you spot the real problem? Is not the challenge laying right in front of you? Sometimes, the actual problem is hidden behind the challenge you are seeing clearly. Let’s understand this through an example.

Everybody watches Netflix, right? For those who are not aware, Netflix is an online movies and TV shows provider. Well, in 2006, Netflix announced that they would give $1 million to anyone who would take their movie recommendations game up by 10 percent. Many worked very hard for three years to find a solution, and all people from various companies and universities tried working it up. Although they made a lot of money through this work, but no one really solved the most important problem or the solutions they provided were never brought into practice.

What Netflix actually should have done is focus on a more general question like “How can we make recommendations better for their consumers?” instead of making a specific recommendation system, they might have found a different answer in that case. However, Netflix focused on a simple solution to better suit the tastes of each family member by giving them personal suggestions in the form of divided family accounts.

In a nutshell, what most businesses do is try to solve the problem “X” by improving it by “Y” percentage, by doing so, they only solve a small part of a bigger problem. However, what they should be focussing on is trying to use a defined method that they can use in various projects and see definite results. Moreover, you need an approach that allows you to reach the root cause that stops you from wasting your time and resources.

Setting clear and precise goals for your business to tackle the challenges along the way is very important. Understanding the problems with every changing issue can be different, as not every problem has the same solution. You can start with a major, unclear issue and try different ways to solve them. You don’t have to figure out all the details at every step, as the problem will keep changing as you go on.

Many names, one concept

Many organizations from different fields use these working methods, though they may name them differently. Designers and engineers who use human-centered design follow steps like “research, prototype, test, and iterate” to find solutions. Entrepreneurs who use the lean startup method follow a loop called “build, measure, learn” to make their businesses. Programmers who practice agile development use steps like “minimal planning, short feedback loops, and iterative testing and improvement” to make software. Project managers discuss the Deming wheel, which has measures like “plan, do, check, act.”

Each company has its own focus, but they all follow a similar pattern: a bit of planning, then building, testing, and doing it all over again quickly to make it better. They all know that when they start, they might not know exactly what problem to solve and that the problem can change while they work. If they didn’t stay open to learning, think about the problem, and make changes by creating something new, they could struggle to decide what to solve. Or even worse, they might waste time and resources on things that aren’t important.

Uncertain problems need quick and easy tries

When a problem isn’t clear, planning becomes less important. Why make a plan that won’t work anymore? This is the reason why most designers use fast, easy sketches and simple models at the beginning; for example, they use tape and sticks when they are unaware of the exact method they want to create. When the idea becomes clearer, they start using more detailed models.

That’s why companies start with the bigger problems and the smallest of the issues they can work on. They must “plan by doing” and use these small things to figure out the best problems to solve. This technique is being used in many job profiles, and the results are always in their favor. Many organizations with experience tell us that it’s the only way to develop truly important questions and answers.