From our experience, there is generally very little attention paid to problem management as opposed to problem-solving (For reference on both concepts, please visit “ Problem Solving“and “ Problem Management “). Here how it looks like in an SMB:
CEO looks at Ops leader: Why is “X” unhappy?
Ops leader: “X” is unhappy with his/her results.
CEO: What are we doing about it?
Ops leader: We are getting to the bottom of it and will do whatever is possible to rectify the issue.
CEO: Ok. Keep me in the loop.
CEO calls the client to ensure all will be rectified.
Does that sound along the lines of what would occur? This is a fictional account for situational discussion, but let’s agree that a similar version of this occurs daily in almost every organization.
So what’s wrong with that model? It is not sustainable in the long run.
The “Band-Aid” model (Band-Aid approach) is a widely used method of quelling daily challenges that, on the surface, maybe “cosmetic” but are just symptoms of underlying organizational-wide or operational problems. The usual response from stakeholders tends to be something along the lines of solving the urgent issue will help survive today so the organization can get to the more permanent solutions. We will discuss the problem with that approach later; for now, though, we will discuss the underlying issues: problem-solving is not the same as problem management.
First and foremost: problem-solving is a STEP in the problem management cycle. Think of it along the lines of HRM (Human Capital Management): human capital acquisition is part of human resource management; without HRM, there can’t be efficient HCA. For problems to be solved properly and promptly, proper analysis, solution options (solutioning), etc., there won’t be any consistency in the discovery and solution of said problem.
Secondly, a lack of proper problem management solutions and SOPs will create many different “off the cuff” solutions at different levels that could hamper the overall efficiency of the efforts as well as a diversion from core organizational goals and culture.
Thirdly and most importantly, it impacts organizational coherence in a subtle but very impactful manner. Think of it along the lines of “Fog of War” or “Situational Awareness”; without clarity, the teams’ action can have an outsized impact temporarily and, on occasion, permanently. That kind of risk is intolerable and unacceptable.
So now what? Does everything that can illustrate a challenge need to be deeply analyzed? Will it slow down everything? Will it add to the cost? Will require additional human capital? The answer is obviously NO. This issue is more nuisance.
In the next post, we will discuss the steps and cycles of “Problem Management” and how it can impact the bottom line.