Stop Treating Problems Like a Game of Whack-A-Mole

POINT OF THE POST...

Discover the power of systematic problem-solving as we transition from reactive quick fixes to proactive, sustainable solutions. Embrace planning and strategically tackle issues for long-term success.

Rediscovering Planning: Your Path to Problem-Solving Mastery

In the chaos of today’s fast-paced world, we often find ourselves grappling with various problems.  

What is ONE problem you’re trying to navigate right now? 

More importantly, do you have a systematic PLAN to solve it? 

The word “plan” feels increasingly like a lost art today. Let’s consider our options. 

Trading the ‘Whack-A-Mole’ Tactic for a Systematic Strategy

Carnival-goers and arcade enthusiasts are familiar with the iconic “Whack-A-Mole” game. You wield a mallet, aiming to smack cheeky moles that sporadically pop up from different holes. As soon as you knock one down, another springs up. You are constantly reacting, just keeping up. 

Sound like your day at work? You’re not alone.

Regrettably, this reactionary approach has become a go-to strategy for many leaders, particularly in church settings. A problem arises, and it’s swiftly smacked down with a quick-fix solution. However, like a mole in the game, the problem re-emerges, demanding to be whacked again. 

It’s like applying a band-aid to a leaky pipe or battling an inferno with a water pistol – it might give you a temporary sense of victory, but it doesn’t address the real issue.

Reacting to problems without understanding their roots is not just exhausting but inefficient. 

It’s time to switch from a reactive to a proactive strategy.

Redefining Problem Solving with a Systematic Approach

The allure of quick-fix solutions is strong; they offer an instant sense of accomplishment. But let’s face it. Patchwork solutions don’t eradicate the problem. 

You might temporarily extinguish a raging fire, but another flare-up is inevitable if the embers still glow.

That’s where a systematic approach comes in. A problem solver par excellence knows it’s not about wrestling with issues as they surface but about understanding and addressing their roots.

So, what does a systematic approach to problem-solving entail?

  • It’s Proactive: Systems focus on preventing problems, not merely responding to them.
  • It’s Considered: While slower than quick fixes, the long-term benefits of a systematic approach far outweigh the short-term relief of band-aid solutions.
  • It’s Healthy: Constantly reacting to problems without addressing their root cause is a recipe for burnout. A systematic approach safeguards you and your team’s well-being.
  • It’s Strategic: With measurable outcomes, systems allow for ongoing adjustment and improvement.

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Mapping the Path to Problem-Solving Through System Creation

So how do you develop a system to tackle a problem? Here are the steps:

1. Define the Problem:

Identify the issue you’re trying to solve. What is it, who does it affect, and what might happen if left unresolved?

2. Unearth the Root Cause:

Use techniques like the “Five Whys” to identify the real cause of the problem. Keep going until you’ve reached the core of the issue.

For instance, why is the volunteer signup rate at your church dropping? 

Are attendees unaware of opportunities because the information is shared only at the end of the service? And why is that? Dig deep until you find the actual root cause.

3. Set Objectives:

What does success look like for you? Define your SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals. 

They might be increasing the volunteer signup rate by 20% in the next quarter or improving the communication of volunteering opportunities.

4. Develop Strategies:

Once you know your goals, brainstorm strategies to achieve them. 

This might involve different teams or require changes in your current processes. These strategies will form the basis of your system.

5. Implement the System:

Now that you have your strategies, it’s time to put your system into action. 

Remember that you might need to make adjustments along the way, and that’s okay. A systematic approach is about continual refinement and improvement.

WARNING: Implementation is a dangerous moment for your system. You will be tempted to abandon the approach if you don’t see immediate results. Make sure you give your system time, though. Systems address root causes, not surface problems. Systems take more time, but in the end, systems create long-term health by addressing the cause of the problem. 

6. Measure and Adjust:

Keep track of your progress. Is your system helping you achieve your goals? If not, adjust it. Remember, the beauty of a systematic approach lies in its flexibility.

As leaders, we must hone our problem-solving skills. It’s time we ditched the mallet, stopped playing “Whack-A-Mole” with our problems, and embraced a systematic approach instead

Because remember, the solution lies not in reacting but in proactively building systems that prevent issues from arising in the first place. 

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