Re-evaluating Our Problem-Solving Approaches
Question the Processes, Understand the Situations, and Preserve the People
When confronted with problems, it’s vital to remember three fundamental aspects of business:
- Business revolves around three core components: People, Processes, and Situations.
- Processes can significantly influence People: This holds true for both technical processes and interpersonal communication strategies.
- Situations can destabilize People: This is particularly true for novel and high-stress situations.
It’s worth noting that defective processes and challenging situations often detrimentally affect people’s capacity to perform efficiently.
Also, understand that change is beneficial only when people are comfortable with it. This statement might stir debate, but it’s worth considering.
The most efficient and effective approach to problem-solving involves first examining the processes at work and understanding the situation.
Don’t take the understanding of processes for granted, even if you believe your workflow is well defined and repeatedly communicated. Given the current high-stress work environment and the challenges people face while trying to multi-task, your messages may not be received or remembered as effectively as you’d hope. When it comes to processes, making assumptions is not a good approach.
Even if you are entirely convinced that your processes are flawless and well communicated, challenge your understanding and recall. Take time to scrutinize the processes.
Always Question the Processes Before You Question the People Involved
Never underestimate the influence of situations on people’s behavior. Each situation comes with its unique elements: different individuals, varied processes, diverse urgencies, distinct distractions, varying constraints, and unique atmospheres. It’s common for situations to override people’s good intentions when problems arise.
If you are entirely convinced that the people are at fault, reconsider your conclusion. Adjust your perspective to accommodate the reality that:
- Good people may make poor decisions when led astray by a challenging situation (think about the Stanford prison experiment),
- Well-meaning individuals might fail to meet their intentions when situations steer them towards failure (reflect on instances when circumstances beyond your control prevented you from delivering on a commitment), and
- People can become engrossed in situations where common sense gets sidelined (recall the Vancouver ‘2011 Stanley Cup riot’).
Always critique the situation before you critique the people involved!