Four Steps When Troubleshooting…

I feel lucky in business because I’m the one with the birds eye view on my clients’ organizations. It’s easier to see internally issues playing out when you aren’t in the “box” of their world. When you are internal to the organization, troubleshooting is one way to see more clearly and helps in identifying root causes and fixing them. You can think of troubleshooting as a particular mindset in which you ask a series of questions in an attempt to gain a new perspective on a business problem you may be having. It’s extremely helpful to be curious and open-minded, rather than quick to judge or show up in the “know it all” version of yourself.

Sometimes you find out what you thought was problem actually wasn’t at all. 95% of what we worry about isn’t even true. Our perception about an issue is often clouded and inaccurate. Meditation and yoga helps keep a clear mind… just throwing that out there! The troubleshooting mindset can be applied to all sorts of problems.

Four steps when troubleshooting:

  1. Is there an actual problem? Before you start solving a problem, make sure that the thing you are are solving is actually a problem. You can do this by defining and clarifying the problem. Is it simply annoying? Not necessarily a problem. Is there a clear threat to your business future? Definitely a problem.
  2. Isolate all distinct parts. After you’ve determined that you definitely have a problem, it’s time to isolate all distinct parts. Hats off to engineers – they typically are very good at this kind of stuff! In my business world, I often see clients reluctant to do certain things – adhering to an annual plan or budget and networking are often reoccurring issues when working with clients. The isolated parts on networking would be: pressure to be on billable projects, not seeing the benefits of networking, having fears about networking, preferring to spend their time in a different way, expecting other colleagues to do it, etc.
  3. Testing. This is about taking each isolated part and testing it. In my example above, I’d be asking my client to be honest about their resistance in each component. We would narrow down what they are specifically having issues with. From there, we see the root cause – let’s say it boils down to feeling pressure to be on billable projects. We see they could delegate more to their junior staff, and that then frees them to network occasionally.
  4. Course correct. Finally, we continue to course correct on a regular basis to ensure any other issues are properly addressed at the root level.

Rather than make assumptions, it’s good to implement the troubleshooting process in any area of your business or life. You get to the root cause on issues and can then take the right steps to modify. It becomes easier the more often you practice.