Problem solving: why the right answer is often the simplest

Problem solving is a part of business, but it’s easy to let perfection get in the way of action. A simple solution is key to moving your business forward.

Problem solving: Hands holding a square knot in a rope

(Hat tip to Woodley Wonderworks for the photo)

When a problem arises in your business, for the sake of your own time and the sanity of your employees, you need to consider what the problem is worth.

The peril of problem solving

Problems are tackled each day in your office by you and your employees. Most of these problems go unnoticed because you already have solutions in place, but you can’t predict everything.

When new problems come at you, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. You’re invested in what you do and you want the solution to be not only successful, but also sustainable.

However, your goal should be to keep the problem from becoming bigger than it is. Measure the value of solving the problem against the resources that the solution will cost you. To minimise the risk of wasted resources, you need to think differently about problem solving.

A new approach

The quest for the perfect answer usually leads to endless planning and countless drafts, but consider that your quest for perfect could be getting in the way of actually solving the problem.

Occam’s Razor is a 14th century philosophy that teaches ‘Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.’ A simpler way of saying it: ‘when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is better.’

Simple is better, but so is saving time. The 90 percent solution tells us that ‘the first 90 percent of a project takes 10 percent of the time, but the last ten percent of the work takes the other 90 percent of the time.’

As a business owner, you don’t have the extra time in your day to fine tune a complicated solution. You might have options, but picking the simplest solution could save resources to put toward the next problem.

Knowing what’s simple

If you want to spend less time planning and more time executing, how do you recognise the simplest solution? Ask yourself:

  • How much time do I have to plan?
  • How long will it take to implement?
  • What other resources are needed?
  • Do I have these resources available?
  • How many variables are there?

Less variables may mean a simple solution, but simple certainly does not mean low-end, poorly crafted or half-hearted.

It’s a case of the simple solution being the right solution for your business.

The business application

As your business grows, your team grows. Growing pains are normal for many small businesses. You can’t predict exactly when your customer base will grow, but you’ll inevitably have to make changes to your team as it does.

To take care of your team, do you spend the time to hire an additional individual for human resources and count on continued growth? Try to modify your old procedures to suit?

Do you assign the extra duties to another individual and risk an overwhelmed employee? Can you handle the extra work yourself amidst the growth?

What’s the simple solution?

Most small business owners hold off hiring a person explicitly for human resources duties. And just as your business is growing, you don’t want to distract anyone else from their role. So, what’s the solution with the least amount of variables and that you have the resources to execute?

Many small business owners experiencing growing pains turn to applications in the cloud because it’s a simple solution. You know what to expect. It will have a low impact on workload and resources. And it can accommodate growth without paying another salary when you aren’t ready.

With the right application, human resources can be easily implemented and easily operated. Requests can be submitted and approved with the click of a button and records are always accessible.

Stop planning, take action

The cloud is just one example of how a simple solution could help your business. Part of the move toward simplicity is to move forward. Whatever the problem you encounter, in whichever operation or practice, find the simple solution and act on it.

You started a business because you have a knack for problem solving. Don’t let problems keep you from focusing on growing the company you care about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *