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Problems fuel great leaders, providing opportunities to learn and grow to the next level.
The greater the problem, the hungrier they are for a solution. Leaders like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates view problems as golden opportunities to disrupt the market and revolutionize the customer experience.
Great leaders acknowledge there is a problem and demonstrate the severity of the problem and the benefit of the solution to stakeholders, partners, and shareholders.
This way, the leader not only takes responsibility for making the problem transparent, but he or she also explores different dimensions of the problem, consequently benefiting from others’ ideas.
Great leaders separate problems from people. They ask questions until they understand the issue.
A clear understanding of a problem delivers two-thirds of the solution. By doing so, they can approach the situation fairly and find a suitable solution.
Great leaders know that finger-pointing does not solve problems. It only adds new ones.
Instead, a leader starts problem-solving by narrowing down the issue. When the problem has been addressed and potentially solved, they ask their team members what they learned from the experience and how they can improve vulnerable areas.
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Often the most difficult step, because it's easy to focus on the wrong part of the problem, or look at the problem too broadly.
The first thing you need to do is reduce it to its simplest and purest form so you know exactly what you're dealing with. While you're doing this, you need to ask yourself questions to make sure you're focusing on the right things.
You need a plan with actionable steps. Ask yourself what's barring you from moving forward and make step one. Step one will open doors to other steps.
Consider which steps will open more doors, add them to the plan, and keep doing that until you get to your solution. Things will change as you act on the plan and you'll need to adapt, so it's best to keep your plan somewhat open-ended and try to include steps that involve preparing for trouble you can foresee.
Great problem solvers approach each new problem as though it were brand new.
That way they can apply a specific solution to the problem instead of a fix that may go only partway.
Great problem solvers take a high-level view of the issues involved and jot down a list of all the potential factors that could get in the way of a solution.
So many times great opportunities are wrapped up inside simple problems.
The problem at hand may be symptomatic of bigger problems with your systems or perhaps your industry.
The right questions are at the heart of discovery. And one of the very first questions you should be asking yourself is “What assumptions can I challenge?”
The mere act of trying to discover what assumptions you and others are making can give you a new perspective on the challenge you're facing.
Go beyond the basic features being asked for and get to the heart of the problem.
Ask questions like: Who cares about this problem? Why is it important to them?
If there are no good answers to these questions, is the problem even worth working on?