The Thinker: Holding the Key to the Real Answer?

How much do you think about any problem you face? Many instantly rush into solution mode when they should spend a little time thinking about the problem and the impact of each potential solution that could be available. With our fast-paced society it is easy not to think things through properly, this is not a matter of philosophy but does require some understanding.

Facing a Problem

The ThinkerPeople have a tendency to be reactive, particularly when pressure is on to complete a project and do things based on spur of the moment decisions. Trouble is a large percentage of people act without understanding the full extent of the problem at hand. Rarely do people take time to understand the root cause; they fail to take time to examine the situation thoroughly some even fail to see the real problem in front of them.

Someone cried out for help but what is the problem?

 If you have not given it enough thought then chances are that you will not be using the right solution, its rather like taking yet another headache pill when you are suffering a headache – you are not looking for the root cause of the headache which could indicate a medical condition that has to be resolved. Too frequently we seek the quick answer when more analysis is actually needed. The problem with the quick fix is that it treats the symptoms rather than finding the real problem, most of the time this isn’t a issue, but there are times when it clearly is.
Do I really understand the problem I face? This should always be a question we should ask whenever we look at any problem.

Understanding Requires Analysis

The problem

Have you analysed it deeply enough? Do you know the cause? Do you need to ask “Why?” This is frequently where solutions go wrong, people love to jump in and start to tinker, yet thinking about the cause may be a much better approach. If you know that cause of a problem it is possible to define a permanent answer.
I was looking at one such problem many years ago as a business consultant. All the client’s staff ‘knew’ what to do to fix the problem, trouble was they were fixing the problem every single week and wasting time and money in doing so. They did not think about looking for the root cause, the problem in the computer program, then resolve that – the net result was this wasted time continued for many years. When tallied up they had spend more than half a million dollars over fifteen years on their workaround solution, when they should have spent less than $20,000 fixing the problem once and for all time.
We were looking at changing some of the business processes when we stumbled on this particular problem almost by chance, even after we had a programmer change the code to cure the system problem employees still spent time double checking, showing the extent of the problem and how the fix was so in-ground in their minds, they had long since stopped trusting that the computer program would produce the correct result. It also shows that lots of time is wasted by so many people, when the right person should be called immediately.
In order to solve any problem we should always perform a full analysis before attempting to change the process.
 

Understanding Requires Thought

AlternativesTruth is we tend to do too many things without thinking through the consequences of the actions taken, there are many times today where it seems the real ability to think has become a thing of the past. Analysis and thinking a problem through are necessarily the twin towers to any problem solving approach. Analysis leads us to ask what is going on whereas thinking leads us to question why does it occur. This is a part of an empirical approach which people should adopt more readily than they do, indeed there are times we should be asking all five questions, what, why, how, when, where and sometimes the sixth who as they may all have relevance to finding the answer.
This is something we should make a more conscious effort with for all problems that we face. When we do not know the fullest extent of the problem then it is essential we listen to those who are impacted on a daily basis, they often know best.

Then Define the Solution

It is only once you have taken the relevant analysis and thinking steps is it possible to identify the solution, even when a solution seems easy.

About Peter B. Giblett

Peter Giblett is a business consultant who has a passion for writing, published in a number of locations including 2 Drops of ink and Wikinut as well as a number of client websites. He is currently looking for new commissions to write for clients. You count buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee as a thank you for providing this article.

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2 thoughts on “The Thinker: Holding the Key to the Real Answer?

  1. I really appreciate your example of the employees who were “fixing” the same problem each week. When seen in such concrete and striking terms, it’s so much easier for people to understand why they need to find the root cause of a problem and address that rather than finding quick fixes.

    1. It is my experience that too many look for the quick fix, which is no such thing and costs more money over the longer term.

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