…is to recognise what’s changed. Problems can be characterised as an adverse variation in performance resulting from a change in the environment. For example:

  • Pipes start leaking when they crack after being subject to rapid freeze-thaw temperatures;
  • Staff turnover can increase when the economy improves and there are more job opportunities around;
  • You may start to put on weight when you are suffering from higher levels of stress;
  • Your sales can fall when a competitor cuts its prices; and
  • Customer service complaints can increase when you reduce customer service training.

It is better to solve a problem by tackling its cause, not just dealing with its consequences – i.e. fix the pipe, don’t just keep placing buckets beneath it! And if you wish to find the cause you should first determine when the problem started and then see what environmental changes happened around the same time. These changes will give you the best starting point for finding a sustainable solution.

Now I just need to work out why Preston North End have found it so difficult to win a match over the last 18 months…

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.