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Fixing vs Solving Small Business Problems.

Fixing vs Solving Small Business Problems – how to identify and resolve the root cause of problems in your business, instead of just fixing the symptoms. 

This is a re-release of Episode 200 of The How of Business podcast with additional new content and edits.

On this episode, Henry Lopez and co-host David Begin discus the importance (and how to) of addressing root cause problems rather than just fixing symptoms – and why this is crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of your small businesses. It’s about the difference between just fixing the symptoms, versus identifying and solving the true root cause problems.

Fixing vs Solving Small Business Problems:

Here are five tips for small business owners to focus on solving root cause problems:

  1. Embrace a Problem-Solving Mindset and Culture:
    1. Educate yourself and your team on Systems Thinking: Encourage a shift from linear thinking to systems thinking. This involves understanding how different parts of the business are interconnected and how they affect each other. By seeing the business as a system, owners and team members can better identify root causes of problems instead of just addressing the symptoms.
    2. Promote Continuous Learning: Foster a culture of continuous improvement and learning. Encourage employees and management to always ask “why” problems occur, pushing deeper until the underlying cause is identified. This can be facilitated through regular training sessions and by creating an environment where curiosity and true problem solving are rewarded.
  2. Utilize Root Cause Analysis Tools:
    1. Leverage the Five Whys Technique: This simple yet effective technique involves asking “why” multiple times (typically five) until the root cause of a problem is uncovered. It’s a straightforward method that can be used without specialized training and can be applied effectively in most scenarios and business environments.
  3. Collect and Analyze Data:
    1. Gather Comprehensive Data: Encourage the collection of data from various aspects of the business. This includes customer feedback, employee input, operational data, maintenance data, and financial reports. The more comprehensive the data, the easier it will be to pinpoint where problems originate.
    2. Use Data Analysis Techniques: For more sophisticated or complicated problems, apply statistical analysis and data visualization tools to identify patterns, trends, and anomalies. This can help in distinguishing between symptoms and root causes by providing a clearer picture of what’s happening in the business.
  4. Implement Preventative Measures:
    1. Develop Preventative Strategies: Once the root cause is identified, work on developing strategies to prevent the issue from recurring. This might involve process changes, employee training, or new policies.
    2. Monitor and Adjust: Implementing preventative measures isn’t a one-time task. Continuous monitoring is essential to ensure the effectiveness of these measures, and adjustments should be made as necessary based on feedback and new data.
  5. Foster Open Communication and Collaboration:
    1. Encourage Team Involvement: Solving root cause problems is often more effective when it’s a team effort. Encourage open communication and collaboration among team members across all levels of the organization. Diverse perspectives can lead to more comprehensive solutions.
    2. Create a Blame-Free Environment: Ensure that the focus is on solving the problem, not on assigning blame. A blame-free environment encourages more open and honest communication, which is crucial for identifying and addressing root causes. Also, be careful what motivation or incentive you are creating through compensation or other rewards.

By focusing on these strategies, small business owners can more effectively solve the underlying issues affecting their businesses, leading to more sustainable growth and success.

Additional points to consider to help you with solving root cause problems in your small business – Fixing vs Solving Small Business Problems:

  • Fixing symptoms is usually easier than solving the real problem, or the root cause of the problem.
  • If you just “fix” the problem it may well come reoccur repeatedly.
  • In the long-run it will probably cost you more time and money if you don’t identify and solve the root cause problem.
  • This approach to problem solving can apply to your people as well. What are the root causes of someone not performing well in a particular position? What might we change with our hiring or training process to help solve this problem?


Other Episodes:

You can find all previous episodes of The How of Business podcast on our Archives page.  Henry Lopez is the host of the podcast, and small business coach and mentor.

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