3 Ways to Ask Yourself, What’s the Problem?

It comes out of no where, it’s slow and subtle.  It grows like a silent cancer and by the time you discover it what could have been prevented is now a huge problem.  You think to yourself,

It always appears to be an obvious answer.

  • You may say, the problem is that my boss holds impossible expectations.  
  • You might saymy staff  is young, unappreciative, and apathetic to the cause.
  • You might even say, corporate sets unattainable goals.

Whatever it is, we always seem to be able to promptly define the problem.  You feel helpless and powerless, like this problem is out of your hands and too huge for you to solve.  But these are not your problems, these are your excuses to avoid taking ownership of your problems. They are, perhaps, the face that your problem is wearing to deceive yourself; but the problem is hidden deeper within our behaviors, our actions, and our surroundings.

So how do we find the true inner problem?

The First Strategy is asking yourself these 4 easy questions.  28631175263_78c3e5b45d_o

  • What would life look like without this problem?
  • What alerted you to the problem?
  • Who is involved in the problem, who needs to be a part of this conversation?
  • What makes you think you have a problem?

The Second  Strategy I call the Toddler Strategy, also known as the 5 Why’s.

This strategy was created by Sakichi Toyoda, inventor and founder of Toyota, in the 1930’s.  It’s truly as simple as it sounds, like a petulant toddler ask yourself Why 5 times.

423px-Sakichi_Toyoda_newProblem:  My house is covered in laundry clean and dirty.

Why? Because my husband won’t put his clothes away. (where most of us stop)

Why?  Because he doesn’t know where to place them.

Why?  Because there is no more room for them in his drawers and closet.

Why?  Because we do not have efficient storage

Why?  Because we have not worked together to figure out what we need to change in our room and routine to make this work.

Solution: Share organization remedies with my husband tonight, and then act on the plan we make together.

The Third Strategy is the Ishikawa or Fish Bone ChartScreen Shot 2016-08-26 at 5.12.45 PM

This a chart, created in the late 1960’s, that is a terrific tool to not only define the causing factors but to also pin point the many aspects of the issue that may need addressing while creating a solution to your problem.  This will also help you to determine who needs to be involved in the conversation, by determining what departments or groups are in it.  Due to the layout’s similarity to that of a fish’s skeleton it has conveniently picked up the nick name of the Fish Bone Chart.

The Three Standard Categories for the Ishikawa:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 5.22.08 PM

These are strategies not only for management, but for your day to day routines.

  • How have these strategies worked for you in the past/present?  
  • Which one do you prefer?

16 thoughts on “3 Ways to Ask Yourself, What’s the Problem?

    1. My college students always really love this lesson, it’s their favorite. I normally follow it with a group activity where they have to act as different members of executive mgmt try to fix a problem prompt. They all choose to use the chart, because it’s awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

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