𝗙𝗿𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺𝘀 𝗕𝗮𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗼𝗻 𝗦𝗼𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀
Updated: May 21
In the picture, you may notice a storm brewing or you may see the sun breaking through.
When a problem or crisis arises, the instinct is to concentrate on the cause, extent, and magnitude of the problem. However, I encourage founders to focus instead on solutions and move quickly to implement them.
Problems in the past cannot be changed // Solutions in the future are malleable
Problems exasperate limitations // Solutions emphasize opportunities and outcomes
Problems dwell on loss, so cause stress // Solutions anticipate learning, so produce optimism
The same circumstances can cause difference reactions. As a fractional COO, I encourage founders to perceive challenges as a chance to learn and to implement long-term solutions (which avoid a recurrence of the same problem) when possible.
“𝑰𝒏𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒂𝒅 𝒐𝒇 𝒇𝒐𝒄𝒖𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒄𝒊𝒓𝒄𝒖𝒎𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 – 𝒇𝒐𝒄𝒖𝒔 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒊𝒓𝒄𝒖𝒎𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏.” - Joy Page
To engage in a solutions-driven approach, consider these tips:
Accept responsibility. Acknowledge what happened, describe its impact, and take ownership for the resolution.
Emphasize learning. Explore a different and (hopefully) better approach, to understand the impact of the problem and solution, and to experiment with a stronger process.
Explore ideas. Brainstorm all possibilities and be open to an unexpected long-term benefit if handled effectively.
Weigh possibilities. Review options based on their cost versus impact and other useful criteria. You may create a decision matrix if there are many criteria.
Straddle teams. Encourage collaboration to build stronger ideas and longer cooperation.
Search across many people. Engage your team, investors, advisors, research, founders, and friends for different perspectives on options.
Consider a step back. Weigh the opportunity to completely overhaul a system or process.
Focus on the future. Describe the ideal circumstances and then work backwards to figure out how to get from here to there. Visualizing the future relieves initial pressure from the logistics and personalities.
Be blunt and clear. Describe your specific plans and next steps in a straightforward way to all stakeholders.
Recognize the Downsides
A solutions approach often leads to positive, long-term change, but sometimes can be inappropriate.
There are times when you’ll need to go deeper into a problem, like a systemic failing or a disruptive personality. In these cases, you need to understand the complexity of the failure before jumping on a resolution.
In the case of a severe crisis, damage control is the priority. Once you can concentrate internally again, then initiate the process to seek long-term change and solutions.
It’s tough when plans are ruined, and resources strained. However, almost any crisis may be viewed as an opportunity. This approach will not only deliver solutions faster but also concentrate energy on moving forward.
* See this post on Systems and Process: https://bit.ly/2V59boW
Photo by Mysticsartdesign who can be found here: https://bit.ly/36LPHsh