Problem Solving by Barry Moze


I can’t tell you the number of times I have been in meetings when a discussion breaks out regarding a problem. Everyone is putting forth their observations and solutions, yet no one has noticed that they are arguing about the same subject but a different problem.


This scenario is like me saying that I don’t like to wear stripes because they make me look big. What's the problem? Don’t let the fact that I weigh more than I should get in the way of making the problem the clothes and not me! You see, the problem is not fashion; it’s my eating that’s the culprit here. However, once I throw the striped shirt out and put on the black sweater, the perception has changed, but have I really solved the “Problem?”


So what does this have to do with your business? A lot. I find that business issues fall into one of these categories:


1) Strategy

2) Structure

3) People

4) Process


If your issue doesn’t fall clearly into one of the above categories, then the problem probably falls in the wiring between the above four. The wiring may be the most important.


Without a clear understanding of the root causes in these categories, how can anyone come to any reasonable solution to the issue at hand?

Understand root causes. Let’s say your global sourcing group is not having the traction you wanted, your sales organization is not delivering as promised or executive team is not acting like a team. Does your team look for root causes, or do they start blaming?

The obvious problem most business leaders gravitate towards is people. There are more than enough books out there that say without the right people in the right roles, you cannot succeed. They are partially right.


However, if your strategy is not sound, if your structure is not designed to handle the reality of the business, or if the processes in place don’t give you the information or discipline you need, how can your people succeed?

Separate issues into the four categories and solve. The next time you participate in an emergency meeting regarding a very important “problem,” take time to listen to the information and the discussions at the table. Separate them into the four categories above, dig for root causes and solve them accordingly.


If the solution does not fit into one the four above then it is the “Wiring,” and that is another subject all on its own!