On average, I’ve seen organizations I’ve worked with identify 80 to 120 problems across their entire operation. This is typical because operations are designed to be indefinite, so there’s never a point where we have zero problems. But it doesn’t mean that we have to solve all 100 problems at once.
There’s a misconception that all problems are equal in weight. Since all the operation problems are equally important, we have to solve all of them now. Going this route only creates overwhelm, frustration, confusion, and a lack of clarity around what actually matters most. This is where problem prioritization comes in. It helps you separate and compartmentalize problems that matter and make sense to solve now to problems that are less important and can wait.
Why Problem Prioritization Matters
Problem prioritization removes as much subjectivity as possible from the choice of what you are going to focus on in the company in order to improve. It allows you to make it less about your own personal opinions or siloed initiatives and more about what the operation truly needs.
This methodology takes the personal component out of the equation. The CEO or director doesn’t have the weight of choosing. Problem prioritization allows the operation to tell you what will drive the most ROI in the shortest amount of time.
Problem Prioritization is like gold mining
We don’t have to solve all the problems at once. The right way to solve problems is to do it incrementally—by breaking apart the ones that are the most valuable like gold mining. You are sifting through problems and bringing the most valuable ones to the surface.
You are slowly and surely chipping away at the core to discover what makes a great process. It’s like what Michelangelo said about creating David. For Michelangelo, every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to release it. He didn’t make David. He was already there. He just found him.
That is typically what organizations’ processes look like. You have a great process. It’s in your operation, but it’s cluttered and distorted with people who weren’t trained effectively and employees who made their own rules and stopped following the process. Then there are legacy employees who continue doing things the old way or just do things the wrong way over time.
It’s hard to see your great processes because they’re cluttered with all these variables. Your task is to chip away until you find your David. This methodology for prioritizing problems, where you know where to focus the efforts of your resources, is what helps you chip away effectively.
You don’t have to solve all your problems now
Not all problems are created equal. Problem prioritization allows you to focus the efforts of your resources on problems that matter more now versus the ones that matter less. In doing so, you can provide a little relief to you and your team by showing them that not everything needs to be fixed now.
Problem prioritization helps ensure that your resources are allocated wisely. This allows teams to address the problems that are having the greatest impact on the process first, which can lead to more significant improvements.
In love and respect,