Perspective is the first step to solving any business problem

Business problems can sap days’ worth of energy and result in more than a few sleepless nights. But Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, notes that it doesn’t have to be that way. In a recent interview at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, Sarah listed four steps to consider in problem solving:

1.     Was anyone hurt? Sometimes the politics and passion of the moment can make problems seem like crises and paralyze managers. While not dismissing the challenges we all face, perspective is key to solving business problems. What is really at stake? How urgent is the issue? At the end of the day, what is the impact on the team, customers, the company, and you? A shift in perspective may lead to more productive problem-solving.

2.     What is the problem? It’s easy and tempting to rush to identify solutions, but taking a moment to step back and define the problem can lead to more rapid resolution. Framing the problem allows you to scope the issue and define the bounds of the problem. Defining the problem also facilitates the possibility of reframing of the problem to find creative solutions.

3.     What is the solution? Oftentimes, the solution is right in front of you. In many cases, you may already know the solution. In other cases, you simply need to look at the problem objectively and brainstorm possible approaches to come up with a solution.

4.     What is the impediment? With a solution on the table, what is holding you back from implementing it? Overcoming the impediment(s) to the solution can be the most challenging aspect of problem-solving. Solve for the impediment, and the rest falls into place.

To hear more from my interview with Sarah Trahern (CEO of the Country Music Association), watch the short video below. Sarah discusses how technology is changing the business of the CMA and empowering female artists, and she offers tips for fostering your personal brand.

Leadership Notes is a blog and video series on leadership.  Through interviews with leaders from both the private and public sector, Johnson examines key leadership issues like empowerment, team development, and cultural dexterity.  The blog also addresses topics such as learning from failure, the importance of friendship, and the role leaders play in developing organizational culture.

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