Best Problem-Solving Strategies for Business Owners

Anyone who has owned or managed a business has likely wrestled with more than a few complex problems. Although it can be easy to get bogged down when a solution seems remote, most problems are solvable, and some could even lead to greater success in the long run.

First, one needs to identify the problem, which is not as simple as it sounds, since perspective has everything to do with perception. A manager will see a problem differently than his or her staff members do, and even when a boss believes a situation to have been resolved, subordinates do not always agree. Sometimes, a manager may mistake a symptom for the root cause of the problem or may misdiagnose the nature of the problem itself.

A boss should investigate the issues involved by communicating with staff at all levels of his or her organization. In many cases, he or she will trace the source of the problem to management, where policies are made, revised, and interpreted. If staff and managers are no longer on the same page about how they should carry out policies and procedures, the company can experience problems on its front lines.

Brainstorming a range of possible solutions with employees may produce viable alternative solutions that had not been considered.

Managers should also be prepared to listen carefully to their most involved stakeholders. For example, if a piece of machinery is not performing well, one should consult the employees who use it most frequently.

Testing a solution before considering a problem resolved is also important. A manager may need to modify a solution before achieving success.

Once a problem is solved, a boss should take a look at its long-term implications for his or her operations. The manager might just find that the experience has shown him or her the need to update, upgrade, or revise business practices.