Have you been in a situation in which nothing seemed to go right, and then you’re tasked with making it right? I’m sure everyone has at one point. When you have kids that situation unfortunately comes up more than one would like to admit. Sometimes the same situation can happen in business. It’s easy enough to inventory the situation and throw your hands up and say, “Well, this is a lost cause” and run away, never looking back. Business doesn’t operate that way. So how can you turn a mess into a good situation?
Believe that the problem can be solved.
Before you put a strategy together to solve the problem you must first believe it can be done. This is not meant to be inspirational, but if you don’t find yourself believing you can find a solution it’s going to make the process much more difficult.
Know your goal and build a road map on how to reach that goal.
I’ve often heard that successful writers write the beginning and ending of their books before filling up the middle. It is easier for some to know where they are heading before writing it. This helps them keep the story on track. The same holds true to any problem solving. It’s easy enough to say “we have a problem” and identify it, but it’s difficult to say “this is how we solve it” when you don’t know how your “story” will end.
Know your team or role players.
You may be working with a team or solving the issue for a number of stakeholders, and it’s important for you to identify such. If you’re working on a team, make sure everyone’s roles are clear – especially your own. Keep communication streamlined and document everything you can. When new information presents itself make sure you note that where the team can access it.
This is perhaps the hardest of all tasks because when you’re new to a situation you simply will not be able avoid them. Even if you were a part of the original situation that turned into a mess there can still be little surprises that cause trouble moving forward. Your goal should be to limit them. This is a part of documenting what you find and thinking strategically about every piece of information presented. Asking questions until you fully understand the subject is a great way to limit surprises also. Ask questions like, “How does this effect <insert subject here>?” You’ll likely uncover those potential pitfalls.
You’ve been working on your project and are about 50% of the way through and an issue arises that causes a monumental shift in how you approach the project. Instead of screaming and hiding in the corner because you can’t win – just expect that you’re going to have to make changes at some point. The best example I can give is during a road trip (especially in the spring and summer) it’s almost certain you’ll run into a detour because some road is closed. While you’re trying to solve this grand problem, expect a few detours along the way. You can’t predict the future. I know this because I can’t. I have tried.
What are some other things you have done before when trying to make a bad situation turn good?