Problem: A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
Every business has “problems,” and some have more problems than others. These problems have many important sources:
- Personnel problems
- Operational issues
- Distribution problems
- Marketing issues
- Concentrations of customers or suppliers
- And many others
The root cause of many business problems lies in people. Perhaps they are not fit for the job or lack qualifications. Perhaps they have a bad attitude that is demoralizing for others. Perhaps the problem is behavioral in nature. It doesn’t matter. The problem is still a problem. Problems, whether people-related or not, may be resolvable at the level of top management, or at lower levels. If you are the CEO, you have to solve business-wide problems, or those that impact the overall business. But you need to create a management environment that helps other levels of management to resolve problems at their respective levels.
A problem recognized is one that can be addressed. What is important to realize is that these problems, each and every one of them, to a greater or lesser degree, have an impact on the value of businesses. The following list hopefully provides a vehicle to put business problems into perspective:
- If you are aware of a problem in your business and worry about it, it is a problem.
- If you are reluctant or afraid to take action to resolve the problem, you are in denial. That is much more than a river in Egypt.
- If you think it is a problem, lots of folks in your organization have known about it long before you.
- The longer you wait to address the problem, the more your associates will wonder why you waited and the more credibility you will lose.
- If you worry about the problem and do nothing, it will not resolve itself on its own and will only get worse.
- If you hope it will get better on its own, just get real. See previous comment.
- Years of consulting experience suggest this: several folks in your organization have insight that will help you or your management team resolve the problem, but you have to ask for their help. They are unlikely to volunteer, but would be glad to help. It is in their enlightened self-interest to help if doing so is risk-free to them.
- The longer you wait to resolve the problem, the more it compounds and has implications beyond itself. Problems fester and have unpredictable and negative impacts.
- The sooner you resolve the problem decisively, the longer you will wonder why you waited so long.
- It is better to take imperfect action to solve the problem than to wait for the “perfect” solution. If you take action and it is not quite right, you can adjust at the margin and things will get even better.
- When you take action to resolve any thorny problem, you will feel better immediately, and those around you will also breathe a sigh of relief. Then you all can move on to the next opportunity.
The kicker (12). Problem resolution can positively impact immediate cash flow and the future growth of cash flows. Problem resolution can also reduce the risks associated with achieving future cash flows. The bottom line is that problem resolution has a positive impact on business value.
Let me hear from you on this one. Every business has its problems. If you recognize one, it is time to take immediate – or near immediate – action to resolve it. Think of a problem identified as an opportunity for constructive change.
In the meantime, be safe and be well!