Reaction is not Solution

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There is a common wisdom that if you discover a problem, you shouldn’t make anyone aware of it unless you also have a solution at the ready….something like, “I notice the widget sales on our site are way down, so I propose we drop the price.”
I’m not sure that this is the best way to approach problem-solving, at least not in all cases. Here’s why:

First, the solution I come up with may:
  • Have been tried before and found wanting (that’s not to say this is the same scenario, but that’s another blog post…).
  • be more of a reaction than a solution.
  • Be unrealistic or inappropriate.
  • Not take into account information, circumstances or business rules of which I am not aware.
  • Just be wrong….
Second, placing a delay on solving the problem by requiring the individual to come up with a solution first may cost money, time, customer satisfaction or any number of other things a business doesn’t want to lose.
I propose that in some cases, raising the problem as quickly as possible to your team allows their diverse and creative minds to come up with many more solutions, one of which may be better than just the individual’s first proposed as a knee-jerk to the problem. Some additional critical decision-making and problem-solving skills can be brought to bear and the final solution is not delayed either by the individual working to come up with a solution before raising the issue or the the implementation of a reactionary solution as a band-aid before something more creative and lasting can be pushed out.
This may seem like going against the tenet of “Do It Wrong Quickly” that is the touchstone of the Internet. Perhaps it is, but I have seen too many reactionary “solutions” rolled out that have become the “final solution” either because of sunk costs, politics or the spending of precious resources.
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